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Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program

Learn about the scholarship program that supports caregivers of recovering servicemembers and veterans.

Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program logol

University of Maryland Global Campus offers multiple scholarships—which include full tuition, fees, and course-required resources for each term during the academic year—for caregivers of recovering servicemembers and veterans through the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to honor the unparalleled selflessness and extraordinary commitment of these caregivers.

Each year, the scholarship application opens November 11 and closes April 30.

The program is managed by UMGC and The Blewitt Foundation in association with the National Military Family Association.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for this scholarship program, you must be a spouse, parent, stepparent, sibling, stepsibling, fiancé, child, stepchild, or friend of a servicemember or veteran who became wounded, injured, or ill in the line-of-duty after September 11, 2001. Enrollment in the VA Caregiver Program or assignment as a DoD-designated non-medical attendant (NMA) is not required. UMGC will determine eligibility based on the documentation required for the proof of caregiver status to that veteran or servicemember.

In addition, you must:

  • Have received a high school diploma or GED
  • Be currently enrolled or plan to enroll, if selected, in a degree or certificate program at UMGC with a minimum of 6 credits per term for undergraduate students or 3 credits per term for graduate students during the fall and spring terms; winter and summer term registration is optional, although the scholarship covers courses taken in those terms
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid before the scholarship application deadline; please note the following
    • UMGC's school code is 011644
    • Applicants with Title IV student loans in default cannot be considered for the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program
  • Agree to participate in activities to help promote the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program; activities may include a photo shoot, attendance at an event, and the creation of a video documenting scholarship recipients

Hear Inspiring Stories from Pillars of Strength Scholarship Recipients

Through the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program, more than 50 students have received full scholarships to continue their education at UMGC. Hear from past scholarship recipients about their lives and caregiving journeys, and learn how the Pillars of Strength scholarship helped them achieve their academic goals, boost their career prospects, and make positive changes in their lives.

How to Apply

Complete all three of the following steps by the scholarship deadline.

  1. Submit the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program application.
  2. Complete the FAFSA if you have not already done so. UMGC's school code is 011644.
  3. Email your supporting documentation to

Supporting Documents

You will need to submit all of the following:

  • One document containing short essay responses to all of this year's scholarship essay prompts
  • One signed letter of reference from someone familiar with your circumstances and qualifications; the letter should not be from a family member
  • Documentation of your caregiver role including the condition of the recovering servicemember or veteran you assist

Scholarship Essay Prompts

  • Describe the circumstances and challenges of your caregiver role and the condition of the recovering servicemember or veteran you care for
    • 200-word minimum required
  • Describe your personal, academic, and career achievements to date.
    • 200-word minimum required
  • Describe your extracurricular interests and pursuits and any of your volunteer or community activities.
    • 200-word minimum required
  • Describe what you hope to achieve with this scholarship. How will it help you achieve your goals? How will it help you and your family overcome challenges?
    • 300-word minimum required
  • How will you represent UMGC, The Blewitt Foundation, and the National Military Family Association as an alumnus of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program?
    • 100-word minimum required

Caregiver Documentation Examples

Examples of documentation include, but are not limited to

  • DD Form 214 (with a notation for a Purple Heart award)
  • VA Rating Decision Letter
  • Line of Duty (LOD) Determination
  • Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)/Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) Narrative Summary
  • Enlisted Record Brief (ERB) or Officer Record Brief (ORB)
  • DoD Nonmedical Attendant Orders
  • Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Orders
  • A letter from a nurse case manager or physician
  • A letter from a military commander verifying the servicemember or veteran's need for a caregiver
  • VA Caregiver Letter or Certificate
  • Proof of enrollment in the VA Caregiver Support Program, such as a pay stub from the past 60 days or an enrollment letter
  • Proof of membership in the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Network (MVCN), the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes Program, Wounded Warrior Project, Easter Seals Military Caregiver Program, or similar organizations

Review Process

Once you submit the scholarship application and email your supporting materials, your complete application package will be reviewed by a committee at UMGC. The review committee will assess your application based on:

  • Whether you fulfill the eligibility requirements
  • Your individual circumstances
  • The strength of your application
  • Your FAFSA eligibility (Applicants with Title IV student loans in default cannot be considered for the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program)

All applicants will be notified—whether they receive the scholarship or not—by May 31. If you are not selected to receive the scholarship for your current academic year, you may apply for the scholarship again next year.

Become a Donor

If you are interested in contributing to this program, please consider making a donation in support of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program.


NSPA 2018 Scholarship Provider of the Year

NSPA 2018 Scholarship Provider of the Year logoIn 2018, the National Scholarship Providers Association honored UMGC with the Scholarship Provider of the Year Award. The NSPA highlighted the impact of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program during their conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This prestigious award, sponsored by Fastweb for more than 20 years, recognizes organizations and universities who demonstrate exceptional leadership, achievement, and innovation through scholarship programs.

FAQs: Terms & Conditions

I received a scholarship from Pillars of Strength. I'm a caregiver for my husband and Pillars of Strength was a full scholarship for me to be able to attend UMGC.

Pamela R., Wallkill, NY BS in Social Science