By Karen McCarthy, NASFAA Policy & Federal Relations staff
In an Electronic Announcement posted yesterday, the Department of Education (ED) released eligibility criteria for the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, which was established by Congress in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill passed in March. Beginning with the 2018-19 award year, a Pell-eligible student whose parent or guardian died in the line of duty while serving as a public safety officer is eligible, under this scholarship, to receive a maximum Pell Grant award and a zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for purposes of campus-based aid and Direct Loan awarding.
To qualify for the scholarship, the student must be otherwise Pell-eligible, have a Pell-eligible EFC, 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.
For purposes of the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, a “public safety officer” is:
An individual serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or chaplain;
An employee of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who is performing official duties of the agency, if those official duties—
An employee of a state, local, or tribal emergency management or civil defense agency who is performing official duties in cooperation with FEMA, if those official duties—
A member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew who, as authorized or licensed by law and by the applicable agency or entity, is engaging in rescue activity or in the provision of emergency medical services; 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 definition of “parent/guardian” for purposes of the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship is broader than that used for purposes of the FAFSA. For scholarship purposes, parent/guardian includes non-custodial parents, step-parents, and parents of independent students. In all cases, the parent/guardian status at the time of death is the qualifying eligibility criterion. This may be different from the current parent/guardian status.
The institution is responsible for determining and documenting the student’s eligibility for the scholarship. ED does not dictate all of the acceptable documentation that may be used to determine eligibility for this scholarship, but does suggest documents that schools may consider.
When making awards or award adjustments to Pell, campus-based programs, or Direct Loans under the scholarship, the institution must follow all program eligibility, awarding, and late disbursement rules.
ED is modifying the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System so institutions can certify eligibility for students, and allow for increased Pell Grant disbursements. ED will release details on the COD modifications at a later date.
Publication Date: 11/19/2018
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