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Helping Children Who've Lost Parents in the War

The children of military personnel who died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 can now apply for an educational scholarship similar to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Benefits are retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009.

The scholarships, which are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), are named after Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry, 28, a Texas native who died in Iraq in 2006 while disarming an explosive. He was survived by three young children.

"The Fry scholarship represents this nation's solemn commitment to care for children whose mothers and fathers paid the ultimate price for our country," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement.


For more information or assistance applying, call toll-free 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551), or visit the VA's GI Bill Website. VA estimates nearly 1,500 children will receive benefits under the Fry scholarship program this year. Recipients generally have 15 years to use their benefits, beginning on their 18th birthdays.

According to the VA, eligible children attending institutions of higher learning may receive payments to cover their tuition and fees up to the highest amounts charged to public, in-state students at undergraduate institutions in each state. A monthly housing allowance and stipend for books and supplies are also paid under this program.

VA began paying benefits under the Fry scholarships on Aug. 1. Eligible participants may receive benefits retroactively to August 1, 2009, the same day the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect. Recipients are entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level.

When dependents also serve in the military, the reserves or are veterans in their own right, eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty, the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), then they would relinquish their eligibility under those programs to receive benefits under a Fry scholarship.