Jacksonville University became the first higher education institution in the U.S. on Friday, Feb. 28, to partner with the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation in awarding scholarships to students whose veteran parents died in the line of duty.
In a signing ceremony at the University attended by military dignitaries; members of the community; JU students, faculty and staff; and previous recipients of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation scholarships, JU and officials with the nonprofit formalized the agreement and welcomed other colleges and universities to join the program as well.
“Today we honor those children of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” JU President Tim Cost said. “This ceremony represents another paver in the path as JU has fast become one of the most military-friendly campuses in America.”
As part of the agreement, JU will provide a 40 percent undergraduate tuition reduction per academic year for children of deceased veterans who meet JU’s admissions requirements and have been accepted for enrollment. Prospective students will be expected to demonstrate a minimum incoming grade point average (GPA) of 3.3, and each student will be expected to maintain a semester GPA of 3.0 or better.
Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation Executive Director John Coogan said the foundation, created in 2002 and now based in Jacksonville Beach, has awarded more than $6.5 million in scholarships to more than 400 surviving children. The nonprofit has already 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. “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.”
Cost listed a number of developments showing that JU, whose student veterans make up more than 10 percent of its enrollment of more than 4,000, has worked to make the campus as military-friendly as possible. Among them:
• It is a 100 percent Yellow Ribbon match institution, with more than $5 million in VA benefits paid to JU student veterans in the 2012-13 academic year alone, and $700,000 in Yellow Ribbon match funding awarded by JU.
• JU’s College of Health Sciences recently became one of only nine nationwide awarded funding – $870,000 – to implement a program that will offer support and help veterans excel as they pursue their Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University.
• The University will dedicate a new 1,000-square-foot Student Veterans Center – “The Defenders’ Den” – in its Founders Building March 25, creating a dedicated space for student veterans to gather, study and connect.
In the most moving portion of the ceremony, Kenzi Merck, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation Program Administrator who lost her father in the line of duty in Iraq in 2005, received a standing ovation after describing how receiving one of the foundation’s scholarships shaped her future.
“Dad left behind three kids and a wife, and there was a financial burden on the family,” she said. “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.”
For more about Jacksonville University, visit www.ju.edu, or contact Phillip Milano, JU Director of News and Publications, (904) 256-7042, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University works to prepare each of its more than 4,000 students for lifelong success in learning, achieving, leading and serving. Its nearly 200-acre riverfront campus is just minutes from downtown Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. It has been named one of “America’s Best Colleges” for 10 straight years, and ranks in the top 1% among all Florida colleges for Return on Investment for its graduates. With a 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio and full-time faculty percentage of 80 percent, it offers small class sizes, inviting campus grounds and engaged faculty and staff in a setting that promotes community, ambition and responsibility. JU has nearly 190 full-time faculty and offers more than 70 majors, programs and concentrations. Additionally, it offers graduate degrees in business, choreography, education leadership, marine science, mathematics, nursing and orthodontics. JU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).