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The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) offers a variety of scholarship programs to help military families with education costs. One of their largest scholarship programs provides assistance specifically for military grandchildren. 

Founded in 1899, the VFW is one of the nation’s largest and oldest combat veterans service organizations. With over 1.5 million members worldwide, the non-profit organization provides programs and services to active military members, veterans, and their families. One important way they give back is through educational scholarships. Each year, the VFW awards millions of dollars in scholarships at the national, state, and local level.

Their Scholarships for Grandchildren program stands out as one of the most generous. For the 2024 award year, the VFW will distribute over $4.5 million in scholarships specifically for grandchildren of veterans or active-duty service members. The large monetary awards and wide applicant pool make this one of the premier scholarship options for many students. In this post, we will break down all the key aspects of applying and being considered for a VFW Scholarship for Grandchildren in 2024.

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Eligibility Requirements for VFW Scholarships for Grandchildren

To be eligible for a VFW Scholarship for Grandchildren, there are a few basic criteria applicants must meet:

  • Be the grandchild of a veteran who is either a VFW member or eligible for VFW membership. The veteran must have served overseas in a foreign war, campaign, or expedition, or served in Korea or Vietnam.
  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be 23 years of age or younger at the time of graduation from high school or its home-school equivalent.
  • Be a senior in high school at the time of application, or be enrolled and in good standing at an accredited post-secondary institution in the United States.
  • Demonstrate good moral character, leadership qualities, and academic success.

Financial need is not considered, unlike many other scholarships. Applicants do not need to submit financial data or prove the need. Citizenship, relationship to a veteran, age limits, and academic standing are the only eligibility criteria reviewed. This makes VFW Scholarships for Grandchildren an accessible option for thousands of students each year regardless of financial circumstances.

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Types of VFW Scholarship Awards

The VFW offers several scholarship award levels for grandchildren through their national program. The different types of awards are:

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National Awards

  • Five $30,000 scholarships are awarded to the top national finalists who plan to attend a four-year postsecondary institution.
  • Five $20,000 scholarships for those who plan to attend a two-year community/junior college or an accredited vocational/technical school.

Department Awards (State Level)

  • At least one $4,000 scholarship per VFW Department (state) to a student pursuing a four-year degree.
  • At least one $2,000 scholarship per Department for a student attending a two-year program.

District/County Awards

  • Potential for additional $1,000 scholarships awarded at the local VFW District or County level if funds allow. Recipients are also eligible for Department and National awards.

While the top national awards receive the most publicity, there are typically over 300 scholarships awarded each year at the state and local levels as well. This provides widespread access to financial assistance across the VFW’s entire service area. The multiple award levels create opportunities for recognition no matter where a student resides.

Application Process and Deadlines

Applying for VFW Scholarships for Grandchildren is a straightforward process that can be completed online. Here are the key steps and associated deadlines to complete an application:

  • October 31st – Application period opens on the VFW website. Applicants create an account and submit basic eligibility information electronically.
  • December 31st – Final deadline to submit the completed online application, transcripts, letter of recommendation, and essay responses by 11:59 PM CST. Late applications will not be accepted.
  • January – February – Local judging at the VFW District and Department levels. Top winners advance to state and national judging.
  • March – April – National judging takes place. Five national finalists are selected for the four-year awards and five for the two-year programs.
  • July – National winners notified and money distributed. State and local winners are also announced and receive awards.
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The application form collects standard background information along with a list of extracurricular activities, awards/honors, and employment. Students must write two short essays of no more than 500 words each. Transcripts and one letter of recommendation from a teacher or mentor are also required uploads. This establishes a complete profile for judges to review candidates.

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Selection Process and Judging Criteria

With thousands of strong applications submitted each year, selecting the scholarship recipients is a rigorous process. Local VFW volunteers serve as judges to review materials and narrow the applicant pool at the District and Department stages. Candidates are evaluated based on:

  • Scholastic Achievement – Grades, academic honors, and standardized test scores. Transcripts are heavily weighted.
  • Leadership and Participation – Positions held in school or community organizations, participation in extracurricular activities.
  • Awards and Recognition – Non-school honors, awards, and related activities are considered here.
  • Essays – Responses should clearly convey the applicant’s goals, experiences related to patriotism, and future aspirations. Proper grammar and organization matter.
  • Letter of Recommendation – This provides valuable insight into an applicant’s character and potential to succeed.
  • Financial Need – While not required for eligibility, the need may be a deciding factor between equally qualified candidates at some judging levels.

Candidates scoring highest based on these merit-based criteria, leadership potential, and patriotic understanding continue advancing. National finalists have their applications, essays, and recommendations reviewed by retired military officers who select the top awardees. Veterans play a key role throughout the impartial selection process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have explored all the key details about applying for VFW Scholarships for Grandchildren, let’s answer some common questions applicants may have:

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What Majors or Career Paths Are Best Supported?

The VFW scholarships aim to recognize leadership and academics in all fields. Any major that furthers a student’s education is eligible, including arts, humanities, sciences, and vocational programs. There are no preferences given to specific areas of study.

Can International Students Apply?

No, eligibility is limited to U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals only. The veteran grandparent must also fall under the qualifying service guidelines. International students who are not citizens do not qualify for this program.

How do I prove my grandparents’ veteran status?

A copy of the veteran’s DD-214 discharge paperwork listing dates and locations of service should be uploaded along with the application. This verifies their eligibility and allows VFW membership to be confirmed. If unavailable, explain efforts made to obtain records in the application.

What If I Need an Extension on the Deadline?

No deadline extensions are granted for any reason. The application period ends firmly at 11:59 PM CST on December 31st according to the online submission time stamp. Plan ahead and submit all materials well in advance to avoid risks of missing the cutoff.

How Does the Money Get Paid Out If I Win?

Scholarship funds are sent directly to the financial aid office at the accredited post-secondary school once the recipient provides enrollment verification second semester. Checks do not go directly to students. Funds must be used within four years of high school graduation.

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