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The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry Scholarship

Gunnery Sergeant John Fry was an explosives ordnance technician in the United States Marine Corps when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq. He was there voluntarily; an injury to his hand made him eligible to return home, but he did refused. According to his widow, Malia Fry, GySgt. Fry “wanted to be sure children didn’t have to play in backyards with IEDs.”

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry Scholarship is not so much a scholarship but an amendment to the Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33 benefits) that guarantees educational benefits to children of servicemen and women killed in the line of duty on or after September 11th, 2011. So what are the differences between this and Dependent Educational Assistance Benefits?

In application, nothing. Both the Fry Scholarship and Dependent Educational Assistance (DEA) benefits can be applied for online with the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) or through the mail using Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance. The VA estimates it will take about 30 minutes to fill out the form.

Using one program does not preclude a student for being eligible for the other; through a combination of DEA benefits and the Fry Scholarship, students may be able to increase their maximum eligibility time to 48 months of full-time studies. When applying, if you are the dependent of a deceased service member, make sure you check both DEA and Fry Scholarship boxes to ensure your application to both programs is processed and your full eligibility determined.

Fry Scholarship recipients are guaranteed 100% of benefits for 36 months; DEA benefits are determined through a variety of factors, and the parent/service member does not necessarily need to be deceased for a student to receive benefits. Dependent Educational Assistance benefits generally end on the student’s 26th birthday.  The Fry Scholarship extends that to the student’s 33rd birthday. Scholarship recipients cannot be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, a section of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows participating schools and the VA to pay for tuition and fees in excess of the general cap listed by VA.

In short, don’t try to make your own determination; check all the boxes applicable to your particular situation.  Let the VA determine which programs you are (or are not) eligible for in order to get educational benefits to the fullest extent possible. Your parent worked for it.

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