Financial Aid For Those Affected by War, Terrorism, & Natural Disasters

If you have personally been affected by a local, state, or federal disaster, or by terrorism or war, you may be eligible for certain waivers and modifications to your current financial aid or student loans you have already taken. These waivers, first authorized by the HEROES Act of 2003, were extended through Sept. 30, 2022. Pending a reauthorization of the HEROES Act of 2003, these waivers and modifications are no longer in effect. 

The assistance programs listed below are open to victims of disasters, terror attacks, or wartime service. Some of these were initially established only to help victims of 9/11, but now accept applications from students affected by other events. This list is accurate as of September 2023 (although other programs not listed here may exist). These programs are not restricted to a specific college or university:

Private Donor Programs

Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund 

Dependent children, spouses, and domestic partners of 9/11 victims, including airplane crew and passengers; World Trade Center and Pentagon workers and visitors; and relief workers, including firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and law enforcement personnel, that were involved in the rescue efforts are eligible for need-based scholarships.

The Aon Memorial Education Fund 

Provides post-secondary educational financial assistance to the dependent children of the Aon employees who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

Needham September 11th Scholarship Fund 

The Fund assists dependents of those who were killed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Assistance is available for all levels of study including high school, undergraduate, graduate and trade/vocational school. Please note that the Needham 9/11 Scholarship Fund is scheduled to wind down December 31, 2025. 

Children’s Fund of America 

The Children's Fund of America provides education and welfare relief to American children who suffer due to tragedies of national significance, such as natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Among its programs are the Twin Towers Orphan Fund, founded to help the children whose parents were brutally murdered during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and America's Child founded to help the children whose parents sacrificed their lives fighting the War on Terrorism.

MissionSquare Retirement Memorial Scholarship 

Financial aid for surviving spouses and children of our Nation's police officers, firefighters, and other local and state government employees who have died in the line of duty.

Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund 

Scholarships for dependent children of a U.S. Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Guardsman or Marine who has become permanently disabled, killed in action, or classified as a prisoner of war.

State Programs

New Jersey World Trade Center Scholarship 

The New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority offers aid (for in-state or out-of-state colleges) to dependent children and surviving spouses of New Jersey residents who were killed in or who died as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

New York State World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship 

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation offers scholarships to families and financial dependents of victims who died or were severely and permanently disabled as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the resulting rescue and recovery efforts.

Federal Programs

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness 

Spouses and parents of a public servant who died or became permanently and totally disabled due to physical injuries suffered in the attacks on September 11, 2001 are eligible for 100% cancellation of Federal student loan amounts owed on that date.

Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants 

Beginning with the 2010-11 award year, a student who is not eligible for a Pell Grant but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Students apply for this grant by completing the FAFSA.

Post-9/11 GI Bill 

The Veteran's Administration provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. The Post-9/11 GI Bill also offers some service members the opportunity to transfer their GI Bill to dependents. 

Natural Disasters

If you reside in an area that has been declared a disaster, your college or university may be able to offer many other forms of federal student financial aid relief.

Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08 provides information regarding the impact of a “major disaster” on the administration of the Title IV student assistance programs. More detailed information regarding natural disasters can be found here.

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