Jacksonville University is the first higher education institution in the United States to partner with the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation in awarding scholarships to students whose veteran parents died in the line of duty.
Military dignitaries, members of the community and previous foundation scholarship recipients attended a signing ceremony Friday at the University.
“Today we honor those children of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” Jacksonville University President Tim Cost said in a statement. “This ceremony represents another paver in the path as JU has fast become one of the most military-friendly campuses in America.”
The university said it will reduce undergraduate tuition by 40 percent per academic year for children of deceased veterans who meet admissions requirements and have been accepted for enrollment.
The foundation has awarded more than $6.5 million in scholarships to more than 400 surviving children, the foundation’s executive director John Coogan said. The nonprofit has identified “5,000 of the estimated 15,000 children who have lost a parent in the line of duty over the last 25 years.”
“Given rising educational costs and uncertain economic times, our partnership with Jacksonville University is an extremely important one, as their scholarships will help to reduce our cost per student while allowing us to extend our fundraising dollars across more children,” Coogan said in the statement. “More importantly, it provides our children with an unbelievable opportunity to attend a world-class university that has set the standard in its commitment to our veterans and their families.”
The foundation’s program administrator Kenzi Merck, who lost her father in the line of duty in Iraq in 2005, received a standing ovation after sharing her personal experience.
“Dad left behind three kids and a wife, and there was a financial burden on the family,” she said in the statement. “When we got the call from the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, it was the first time since he died that we cried tears of joy. Now I work for the foundation, and carry out my dad’s legacy. I thank JU for offering such an amazing opportunity to students who are going through what I went through. I am very proud to know that I made my dad proud, and I know these students will, too, when they come to Jacksonville University.”
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