11-19: Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act

Posted Date: November 19, 2018

Author:  Federal Student Aid

Subject: Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act

On March 23, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-141, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which included an amendment to Section 473(b) of the Higher Education Act, authorizing the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship. Under this scholarship, beginning with the 2018-2019 award year, a Pell-eligible student whose parent or guardian died in the line of duty while performing as a public safety officer is eligible to receive a maximum Pell Grant for the award year for which the determination of eligibility is made.  To qualify for this scholarship, a student must be Pell-eligible and have a Pell-eligible EFC (up to 5486 for the 2018-2019 award year), and be less than 24 years of age or enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of his or her parent’s or guardian’s death. In subsequent award years, the student continues to be eligible for the scholarship, as long as the student has a Pell-eligible EFC and continues to be an eligible student.

All Title IV aid awarded to such eligible students must be based on an EFC of zero without regard to the student’s calculated EFC. Thus, the student is eligible for the maximum Pell Grant for his or her enrollment status and cost of attendance. In addition, the student’s eligibility for Direct Loans and for Campus-Based program aid must be based on an EFC of zero.

For purposes of the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, a public safety officer is:

  • As defined in section 1204 of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796b); or

  • A fire police officer, defined as an individual who is serving in accordance with State or local law as an officially recognized or designated member of a legally organized public safety agency and provides scene security or directs traffic in response to any fire drill, fire call, or other fire, rescue, or police emergency, or at a planned special event.

The Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship requires the institution’s financial aid administrator (FAA) to determine and document, in collaboration with the student, that the student was less than 24 years of age or enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of his or her parent’s or guardian’s death.  A single, national data source of individuals who died in the line of duty while serving as a public safety officer does not exist. While the Department does not specify all of the acceptable documentation that may be used to determine eligibility for this scholarship, here are some documents that schools may consider: 

  • A determination letter acknowledging eligibility for certain federal benefits under the Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) program administered by the Department of Justice;

  • A written letter of attestation or determination made by a state or local government official with supervisory or other relevant oversight authority of an individual who died in the line of duty while serving as a public safety officer as defined above;

  • Documentation of the student qualifying for a state tuition or other state benefit accorded to the children or other family members of a public safety officer consistent with the definition in 42 U.S.C. 3796b, or as a fire police officer as noted above; or

  • Other documentation the school determines to be from a credible source that describes or reports the circumstances of the death and the occupation of the parent or guardian.

Institutions must maintain all evidentiary documentation related to the determination of the student’s eligibility for the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship.

Federal Student Aid is making modifications to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System that will permit institutions to certify eligibility for students who qualify under the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, and allow for increased Pell Grant disbursements. 

It is important to note:

  • COD System changes will not be in place until later this year. We will inform institutions that the necessary COD System modifications are completed in a forthcoming announcement.

  • Eligibility determination entered into the COD Web will not be carried on the ISIR, nor visible in NSLDS at this time.

  • The Central Processing System (CPS) will not recalculate a student’s EFC when an institution makes the determination that a student qualifies for a Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship. However, in order to make the scholarship easier for schools to administer in subsequent award years, we are working on system modifications which would accommodate eligibility certification within the CPS.

 

Publication Date: 11/19/2018

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