What is the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund®?
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is a charitable scholarship fund that was created in the weeks that followed the attacks of 9/11 to provide 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 in support for students who were in high school and college when the tragedy struck, and will continue to provide assistance until the year 2030.
Who created the Fund? Who manages it?
The Lumina Foundation for Education pledged the initial $3 million to create the Fund – $1 million went directly to the Fund and $2 million to a dollar-for-dollar matching grant to encourage contributions from individuals. The $2 million matching grant target was met on December 18, 2001. The Fund Declaration can be found here; a list of major donors can be found here. The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is managed by Scholarship America.
What is Scholarship America?
Founded in 1958, Scholarship America is the nation’s premier nonprofit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization. The organization has distributed $4.2 billion to 2.5 million students across the nation since its inception. Scholarship America is headquartered in St. Peter and Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more information, visit scholarshipamerica.org.
(NOTE: When the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was created, the organization was known as Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of America. The name was shortened to Scholarship America on January 1, 2003.)
What is Lumina Foundation for Education?
The Lumina Foundation for Education is a private, charitable foundation headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to an education beyond high school. For more information, visit www.luminafoundation.org.
What was the September 11 Scholarship Alliance?
The September 11 Scholarship Alliance was formed by leading scholarship providers and associated organizations to simplify the scholarship application process for postsecondary education for the families of 9/11 victims. The streamlined application developed by the Alliance and Scholarship America is used for application to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and its subfunds. Although the Alliance is no longer active, many of the scholarship funds established by Alliance members and listed in the “Other September 11 Scholarship Funds” section of the website continue to distribute scholarship funds for the families of 9/11 victims. Each of these scholarship funds has its own application process.
What role did President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole play in establishing the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund?
President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole joined together to spearhead the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund fundraising effort. President Clinton and Senator Dole energized the campaign on Saturday, September 29, 2001, with a press conference and a public service announcement broadcast nationwide. This provoked a groundswell of goodwill from the United States and the international community – from grassroots support to fundraising events to cause-related marketing campaigns. President Clinton and Senator Dole served as co-chairs of the fundraising effort until the fundraising goal of $100 million was reached on September 4, 2002, signaling the end of the active fundraising campaign.
How much was raised for the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and its subfunds?
More than $108 million was raised initially, with an additional $20 million in pledged commitments. Fundraising efforts are underway for the 20th anniversary observance of 9/11, with a goal of an additional $25 million.
How many students have been helped by the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund?
In January 2002, the first scholarships were awarded to eligible students. During the 2019-20 academic year, the fund provided more than $10 million in needs-based postsecondary scholarships to 661 members of the 9/11 community. As of June 2020, the Fund and its subfunds had provided needed scholarships to more than 3,665 individuals, totaling $171 million.
How much financial need does the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund meet for eligible registrants?
Due to recent and current economic circumstances, the Fund is currently covering 44 percent of demonstrated financial need for eligible Fund registrants. When the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was originally conceived, it was anticipated that the Fund would cover about 65 percent of financial need. In addition, at this time Fund registrants without financial need receive modest awards from various Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund subfunds.
Each year the assumptions upon which scholarship payouts are based—the age of Fund registrants and potential registrants, their likelihood of attending school in New York (tuition free), the estimated amount of financial need, and the anticipated returns from investments, etc.—are reviewed and updated. For more information, see the Sustainability page.
Why hasn’t more of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund been distributed to 9/11 families?
The Fund is being managed carefully to ensure that it meets its mission to provide 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. As of June 2020, the Fund and its subfunds had provided needed scholarships to more than 3,665 individuals, totaling $171 million. However, there are thousands more individuals who were infants or toddlers in 2001 and are in middle and high school today. From 2018 to 2022 alone, scholarship needs for these students will total approximately $80 million.
Scholarship America manages the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund so that it will be there both for students today, and for an entire generation of dependents of the 9/11 victims through 2030.
What if there are excess funds, or funds left over in the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund?
Scholarship America firmly believes that all assets of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund will be awarded to Fund registrants by the end of 2030.
The Fund Declaration permits the Board of Trustees of Scholarship America to redirect any excess assets of the Fund or any sub-fund to support other postsecondary education scholarship programs of Scholarship America, upon the good faith determination of at least two-thirds of the Trustees that the need for scholarship assistance for Fund registrants has been met, or can with reasonable certainty be met, with less than all of the assets of the Fund or its subfunds, and any assets remaining in the Fund as of December 31, 2030, may thereafter be used by Scholarship America to support other postsecondary education scholarship programs.
However, in February 2008, the Scholarship America Board of Trustees voluntarily determined that no Fund assets will be redirected to other scholarship programs prior to 2030, and any assets remaining in the Fund after 2030 shall only be used to provide postsecondary scholarship assistance to the dependents of those killed or disabled on September 11, 2001 and their descendants. Click here to read the full text of the Board’s resolution.
Is there an appeals process for families and/or individuals who feel they should have received a larger scholarship from the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund or who have been denied need-based scholarship assistance entirely?
Yes. Families can contact Scholarship America at 1-877-862-0136 to submit appeals or find out more about the process. Scholarship America is managing the Fund to support postsecondary education for an entire generation of students through 2030. Based on years of experience managing scholarship programs and a needs formula that ensures the Fund meets as much financial need as possible for each eligible Fund registrant, Scholarship America is committed to ensuring that the students with the most need get the most benefit from the Fund.
How much money does Scholarship America earn from its management of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund?
Scholarship America’s overall general administration costs are typically five percent or less of the Fund’s distributions each year. This is considered quite low, as administrative costs for scholarship funds are typically 20 percent or more.
Scholarship America only charges the Fund for its exact management and administration costs, and makes no profit from its administration of the Fund. All contributions to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund support eligible students. Scholarship America is compensated for its costs from a small portion of the interest earned on the Fund.
Where can I get more information about the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund?
For more information on registration, eligibility, guidelines, and Fund management, please contact Scholarship America at 1-800-537-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Media members, please visit the Press Room.