The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund was established to provide financial assistance for even the youngest children of 9/11 victims—the last of whom will be attending college in 2030. Through sound management and consistently updated actuarial information, Scholarship America anticipates that an exceptionally high level of need for all eligible Fund registrants will be covered by the Fund.
As of 2019, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund has awarded over $160 million to financially needy families since inception of the Fund in 2001.
The great news is that the Fund has been invested well and there remains over $69 million for the thousands of students who are yet to apply for awards. The Fund is poised to continue to support our families until it sunsets in the year 2030.
For the 2019-20 academic year, the percentage of financial need to be paid will be 46%. The percentage of need fluctuates each year based on our annual actuarial study.
We remain committed to working to leverage and maximize all elements in the Fund and make the most generous award levels possible to students. Last year, the Fund awarded $10 million to 727 students across our nation – to date, we have served 3,521 students with multiple awards.
How Percentage of Need is Calculated
The initial fundraising goal of $100 million was intended to cover approximately 65% of the estimated financial need for all eligible Fund registrants through 2030. The percentage awarded fluctuates over the years depending on the actual number of eligible individuals ultimately registered, the increased cost of higher education, and investment earnings on Fund assets, but our goal remains to cover as much need as possible and to award 100% of Fund assets by 2030.
To ensure that this happens, Scholarship America has actuarial estimates re-assessed by the Gallagher Group, an independent actuarial firm, every year. The Gallagher Group conducts an annual review of the assumptions on which payout are based — the age of estimated students, their likelihood of attending school in New York (tuition free), the estimated amount of need, the anticipated returns from investments, etc. Based on the most recent actuarial calculations, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is currently able to cover 46% of student need.
Despite the considerable assets of the Fund, and to the surprise of many who look at the eye-popping number, the assets are still insufficient to cover 100% of anticipated financial need. The reason is that we hold these funds in trust for the children who are not yet of college age.
The Fund is designed to help even those who were babies or toddlers when their mother or father was killed or disabled during the 9/11 attacks. Between 2018 and 2022, we anticipate need to reach nearly $80 million. It is crucial to make sound and accurate ongoing assessments so the Fund can continue to serve even those students who are just now starting middle school.
By keeping our eye toward the future and conducting annual actuarial assessments, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund will be able to support the educational aspirations of these students through 2030.