Today is September 11th. Thirteen years ago today our country was attacked by terrorists. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,977 victims. The victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. All of these victims left behind families. In these families, there were children who would eventually be pursuing higher education.
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund
Seeing the need to help these families of the victims, scholarships rose up across the country to help their dependents fund higher education. The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was established. According to the fund’s declaration, their purpose is:
… to provide education assistance for postsecondary study to financially needy dependents of those people killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and during the rescue activities relating to those attacks.
Established within one week of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is unprecedented in its scope. It provides postsecondary education assistance to an entire generation of financially needy dependents of those killed or permanently disabled in the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. The Fund has already provided millions of dollars in scholarship support, and will continue to provide education assistance through the year 2030.
The Fund sparked incredible generosity nationwide. With President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Bob Dole serving as campaign co-chairs, donations arrived from more than 20,000 corporations, foundations, educational institutions, grassroots organizations, and individuals, raising more than $108 million. More than 16,000 of those contributors were individuals.
Scholarships for Those in Need
The first Families of Freedom scholarships were awarded in January 2002. As of September 2014, the Fund and its subfunds had provided needed scholarships to 2,568 individuals, totaling $103.7 million; there are currently more than 3,800 individuals registered for Families of Freedom scholarships through 2030.
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is managed by Scholarship America, the nation's premier nonprofit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization. Scholarship America has administered the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund at cost since the inception of the Fund. Scholarship America has distributed $3 billion to two million students across the country.
Contribute to Scholarship Funds
Scholarship America played a major role in the creation of the September 11 Scholarship Alliance, formed by leading scholarship providers and associated organizations to coordinate the various scholarship funds for postsecondary education created in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Although the Scholarship Alliance officially concluded its activities, there are still a number of scholarship funds in addition to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund that provide assistance for postsecondary education for 9/11 families. Start your search here, in any of the following categories:
Memorial Funds and Other Funds
Scholarship America manages and administers Memorial and Other Funds. These Funds are managed and administered separately from the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and have separate eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, Memorial Funds are provided for a group of families associated with a specific funder, while Other Funds are open to all 9/11 families.
There are scholarship funds managed by individual colleges and universities, for use on their campuses only. Many of the colleges and universities provide matching scholarships to students who receive Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund education assistance.
Outside Organization Funds
Citizens throughout America stepped forward and donated funds to many relief efforts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. The establishment of scholarship funds was one means of providing such relief and assistance.
The fund this year will recognize an exciting milestone – this summer they awarded over $100 million to financially needy families since the inception of the Fund in 2001. The great news is that the Fund has been invested well and there remains over $96.5 million for the thousands of students who are yet to apply for awards.