By Scott Prater
Early December, usually a time of excitement and anticipation for families, can also be a critical time for those planning to pursue higher education.
As the lights go up, ornaments are pulled from the attic and holiday decorating hits full roar, many college funding programs are opening their application windows.
“Spouses and dependents of service members should be aware that the Henry H. Arnold Education Grant, funded by the Air Force Aid Society, has already begun accepting applications,” said Nancy Seckman, community readiness consultant at Schriever’s Airman and Family Readiness Center.
The Hap Arnold grant program is competitive and based on the student financial need. These $2,000 need-based grants are open to dependent children of active-duty, Guard/Reserve and deceased Air Force members. Spouses of active-duty members residing stateside and surviving spouses of deceased Air Force personnel are also eligible. Applicants must be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university during the 2013-2014 academic year and are required to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average.
Selection is heavily based on the cost of attendance and family income, and is dependent on the number of eligible applicants competing, but Seckman pointed out that the biggest mistake people make is not applying for it because they assume they won’t qualify.
“Anyone thinking about continuing their education should apply,” she said. “It’s $2,000 in free money and it’s renewable every year. Plus, even if they don’t get the grant, they’re eligible to obtain a $1,000 interest-free book loan.”
The program has been helping Air Force family members advance their education for more than two decades.
Andrea Hernandez, community readiness consultant here, was a stay-at-home mom 15 years ago when she decided to go back to school. At the time, the grant was only $1,500 per year, but it proved pivotal. A few years later, her son and daughter also received the grant while attending college.
“When I began considering going back to school, the cost of college made me wonder how I was going to afford it,” she said. “The Hap Arnold grant definitely helped and it continues to assist people today.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, prices for undergraduate tuition, room and board at public institutions rose 42 percent between 2001 and 2011.
“It’s important now more than ever for families to do research in finding education funding,” Seckman said. “Scholarship application season has started. Many high schools provide counselors to help students search for college grants, loans and scholarships. Likewise, the A&FRC can help service member families discover resources.”
The Hap Arnold grant program is one of many options, A&FRC staff highlight to potential applicants.
For instance, Seckman says spouses can benefit from the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program, a Department of Defense career opportunities program that helps military spouses earn licenses, certificates and degrees.
“There are a ton of scholarship, grant and loan programs available for service member families,” she said. “The A&FRC staff members can help spouses and dependents in finding the best resources to fit their situation and now is the time to begin considering their options, especially for those who hope to begin taking classes next August [the start of the 2013-2014 academic year].”
For more information about educational funding sources or career development visit or contact the Schriever A&FRC at 567-3920.