New scholarship for veteran dependents

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By Helena Wegner

A new scholarship for Arizona State University students using Chapter 35 benefits became available earlier this year after it was established by Christopher West and his family. 

The Family First Scholarship was created to support the academic success of veteran families by alleviating some school-related costs. 

“We are going to give you help to get over the fence, the hurdle, to get graduation done and have a better life for yourself and not struggle,” West said.

West isn’t a veteran, but he wanted to support those who are military-affiliated because he recognizes the sacrifices veterans make while serving and the impact it may have on their families.

Already a supporter of veteran-related charities like Wounded Warriors and organizations that help children such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities, West decided to create a scholarship designed to help ASU military children and their spouses. 

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, called Chapter 35, are benefits provided to the children or spouse of a service member who has died while on active duty, a veteran with a specific VA service-connected disability rating, or was captured or considered missing in action.

West created the scholarship for undergraduate students hoping the funding would fill any financial gaps students are left with. 

“There’s always something or someone who slips through the cracks and is struggling,” West said. 

Chapter 35 may not cover all of a student’s schooling costs. Some students can lose portions of their benefit throughout a semester for varying reasons, including if the number of their credits change or the classes they take aren’t related to their degree.

There are more than 700 students at ASU who use Chapter 35 benefits.  

In the future, West hopes to see the scholarship expand and provide internship opportunities to its recipients.

As one of the recipients of the Family First Scholarship for the fall 2020 semester, the funding I received went directly toward paying off the remaining balance of my tuition. 

The scholarship allowed me to quit my other part-time job and focus solely on my studies, networking and job hunting, an opportunity I have found invaluable as it is my last semester at ASU.

The upcoming deadline for the Family First Scholarship is March 21, 2021. 

Contact the writer at hwegner@asu.edu or on Twitter @WegnerHelena.