FAQs: Eligibility

Who is eligible for scholarships?
Eligible recipients are financially needy dependents of those killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and during the rescue activities relating to those attacks. Specifically, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and its subfunds benefit the children, spouses, and domestic partners (1) of the victims, including airplane crew and passengers, World Trade Center and Pentagon workers and visitors, and relief workers, including firefighters and emergency medical personnel and law enforcement personnel. Eligible recipients must enroll in a course of study at any accredited two-or-four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school. Recipients may receive aid for four years of full-time study, or the part-time equivalent.

How can victims’ families apply for scholarships?
Registration is the first step toward requesting scholarship funds and is a one-time requirement that should be completed by spouses or domestic partners of victims, college-age students, high school students and all younger children.

The completed Registration Form and requested documentation must be submitted to verify that applicants were dependents of 9/11 victims. Updated scholarship information and scholarship application instructions will be sent annually to all registrants. Registrants must apply for scholarships each year in which they attend postsecondary institutions. A financial need analysis is used to determine the amount of scholarship awards.

Will the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund provide scholarships for all eligible Fund registrants?
Based on current actuarial estimates, the Fund should be able to meet an extremely high percentage of financial need for eligible registrants through 2030.

Is any type of assistance available from the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund or its subfunds for Fund registrants who do not have financial need?
While the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was created specifically to help financially needy dependents, donors to specific subfunds of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund have made modest scholarships available to Fund registrants who do not have financial need. While these scholarships are available for the foreseeable future, they may not be available through 2030. Please see the General Subfunds and Designated Subfunds pages for more information.

How is financial need defined?
The financial need calculation for the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is based on well-established, commonly accepted financial need criteria for calculating scholarship support. Unlike most scholarship funds based on financial need, however, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund uses a very liberal formula to ensure that the Fund covers as much of the need for as many of the eligible Fund registrants as possible.

For example, the Fund does not include nontaxable income, 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund assets, retirement funds, the value of the family residence, or student earnings. Moreover, the Fund does not include the first $500,000 of a family’s assets in its financial need calculation. For more detailed information, see the Financial Need Formula.

What about the interest income from the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund assets?
Scholarship America includes interest income from the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund in its financial needs calculation. This is because it is often impossible to separate Victim’s Compensation Fund interest income from the other interest income that people report in their tax returns. The purpose of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is to provide for an entire generation of financially needy students who, absent the Fund, may not have the financial resources needed to attend a postsecondary institution – a population that numbers in the thousands. If all investment income were excluded from the needs assessment, future generations of financially needy students would receive substantially less help from the Fund.

Where can I get more information?
For more information on eligibility, guidelines and fund management, please contact Scholarship America's Scholarship Management Services division at 877-862-0136 or info@familiesoffreedom.org. Media members, please visit the Press Room.

To register (a one-time process), visit the Register Now page of this site. Your registration information must be completed and approved prior to submitting an application to receive assistance.

To apply for assistance (an annual requirement), visit the Apply Now page of this site. If you are a full-time student and want to be notified of your award amount prior to the start of fall term, applications must be postmarked by May 15. If you are attending school part-time, taking individual or certification courses, or if you miss the May 15 deadline, your application must be submitted before the end of each term.

1. Domestic partner scholarships are provided through the Benjamin Moore & Co. Heroes of America Fund, a subfund of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. (Return to Eligibility FAQs)

"[My father] would be really happy that I had the opportunity to go to college. I knew that he was there, and that, for me, made it easier. I knew that my whole family was there."
-- Erin, one of seven siblings in her family who will be able to attend college thanks to Families of Freedom

Visit our Freedom Stories section to read inspiring stories from our families.