Fry Scholarship Gets Changes Under New Law

A recent graduate holds a degree and smiles.

One provision of this year's major veterans’ bill known as "The Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 (HR 6416)" which was just signed into law was a minor correction to an oversight affecting surviving spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty. The change affects those surviving spouses who are eligible for what is known as the "Fry Scholarship".

The Fry Scholarship is not a scholarship at all, in fact it is a dependents' GI Bill program created to honor the memory of Marine Gunnery Sergeant John D. Fry, 28, of Lorena, Texas. With only a week left in his Iraq tour in 2006, Fry injured his hand and was given the option of going home early with a Bronze Star. Fry declined the offer and volunteered to go on one last run to defuse bombs. Fry was killed March 8, 2006, by an improvised explosive device in Anbar province, Iraq, leaving behind his widow and three small children. The Fry Scholarship pays basically the same benefit as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The original Fry Scholarship only applied to surviving children of servicemembers who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. A provision of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 extended the program to surviving spouses, the problem was that surviving spouses were only eligible for the Fry Scholarship for 15 years from the servicemember's date of death. That meant that some surviving spouses could be shortchanged in the time they had to use the benefit. Even though they only became eligible on January 1, 2015 their eligibility could end in 2016, 15 years after OIF/OEF began.

The new provision of the Fry Scholarship gives surviving spouses of servicemembers who were killed in action from September 11, 2001 - December 31, 2005 until December 31, 2021 to use their benefit. That means that surviving spouses of those servicemembers killed early in the war now have as many as four extra years to use their Fry Scholarship benefit. Eligibility still ends if the surviving spouse remarries. The new law doesn't affect the eligibility of surviving children, or surviving spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty after January 1, 2006.

For more details on the Fry Scholarship see our Marine GySgt John D. Fry Scholarship page.

Show Full Article