The Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship provides GI Bill benefits to surviving spouses and children of service members who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. The proposed Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act of 2021 would also extend eligibility to spouses and children of service members who died from a service-connected disability within 120 days of serving in the Armed Forces.
Although more a grant than a scholarship, it pays about the same benefits as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The Fry Scholarship provides 100% payment of tuition and fees at in-state rates (paid directly to the school) for all public colleges and universities. Private institution attendance is possible with the Fry Scholarship, but the benefit has a per-academic year limit.
Dependent children who qualify become eligible for the Fry Scholarship on their 18th birthday. If they qualify before Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit expires when they reach their 33rd birthday. If they qualify on or after Jan. 1, 2013, there is no expiration date. Surviving spouses who qualify before Jan. 1, 2013, have 15 years from the date of the service member’s death to use the Fry Scholarship. Those who qualify on or after Jan. 1, 2013, do not have a time limit to use the benefit. However, they are no longer eligible for it if they remarry.
The Fry Scholarship includes:
- 36 months of benefits at the 100% level
- Full tuition and fees paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students; tuition and fees are capped at a statutory maximum amount per academic year for those attending private or foreign schools
- A monthly housing allowance
- A books and supplies stipend
Fry Scholarship Eligibility
Surviving spouses and children of active-duty service members with the U.S. Armed Forces who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. The proposed Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act of 2021 would also include spouses and children of service members who died from a service-connected disability within 120 days of serving in the Armed Forces.
- A dependent child is eligible on their 18th birthday or earlier if they graduated from high school
- Eligibility ends on the dependent child’s 33rd birthday
- A child’s marital status or age 23 or older has no effect on eligibility
- A surviving spouse can receive benefits for terms beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015
- A surviving spouse’s eligibility generally ends 15 years after the service member’s death if they became eligible before Jan. 1, 2013; there is no time limit if the spouse became eligible on or after Jan. 1, 2013
- A spouse loses eligibility to the benefit with remarriage if this occurs during the 15 -year period
Eligibility for the Fry Scholarship is not based on grades.
Fry Scholarship FAQ
Can the Yellow Ribbon Program Be Used With the Fry Scholarship?
In the past, the Yellow Ribbon program could not be used with the Fry Scholarship.
However, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, signed into law Aug. 17, 2017, brought several changes to education benefits for veterans. As of Aug. 1, 2018, Fry Scholarship recipients can also use Yellow Ribbon benefits.
How Do I Apply for the Fry Scholarship?
To apply for the Fry Scholarship, complete VA Form 22-5490, the Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits. Send your application to the VA Regional Processing Office indicated in the form’s instructions.
Can the Fry Scholarship and the Dependents’ Educational Assistance Be Used Together?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, students cannot use both the Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) and Fry Scholarship. Those who are eligible for both programs must choose which one to use.
An exception is that the child of a service member who died in the line of duty before Aug. 1, 2011, can use both DEA and the Fry Scholarship and get up to 81 months of education and training. However, only one program can be used at a time.
Fry Scholarship vs. DEA Comparison Chart
|Benefit Payments||Monthly payment made directly to the student, with the current amount for full-time training is $1,298.||Tuition and fee payments are paid to school. Full in-state tuition costs covered for training pursued at public institutions. The annual limit for private institutions is $26,042.81
A books and supplies stipend is paid to the student, up to $1,000 a year, with the payments proportionately per term.
A monthly housing allowance is paid to students as a monthly stipend based on the local basic allowance for housing (BAH) rate for E-5 with dependents.
|Duration of Benefits||Surviving spouses of those who died in the line of duty may use benefits for up to 20 years from the service member’s date of death or 10 years from the date the VA determines they qualify or from the member’s date of death, although there are exceptions.
A child may use benefits between ages 18 and 26, although there are exceptions
|Spouses who became eligible after Jan. 1, 2013 have no time limit to use the benefit, but lose it if they remarry.
A child who became eligible before Jan. 1, 2013, qualifies when they turn 18 years old, and can use benefits until they turn 33 years old.
A child who becomes eligible on or after Jan. 1, 2013, has no time limit to use benefits.
|Maximum Months of Benefits||45 months if the first use of benefits was before Aug. 1, 2018;
36 months if the first use of benefits was after Aug. 1, 2018
|Concurrent Receipt of DIC and Education Benefit for Spouse||Yes||Yes|
|Programs Covered||College, business, technical and vocational programs; certification tests; apprenticeships and on-the-job training; and tutorial assistance and work-study||College, business, technical and vocational programs; certification tests; apprenticeships and on-the-job training; vocational flight training; and tutorial assistance and work-study|
History of the John D. Fry Scholarship
With congressional passage of Public Law 111-32, the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship amended the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. The proposed Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act of 2021 would also include spouses and children of service members who died from a service-connected disability within 120 days of serving in the Armed Forces.
On March 8, 2006, Marine Gunnery Sgt. John D. Fry was killed in action while disarming an improvised explosive device (IED) in Anbar Province, Iraq. At 28 years old, he left behind his wife, Malia, and three young children.
With her husband’s death, Malia did not know how she was going to pay to send her children to college. The Fry Scholarship came out of her efforts to honor her husband’s memory and sacrifice, and those have helped send hundreds of children of fallen service members to college and other postsecondary educational efforts.
“He laid down his life so other Marines would be safe, and he did it willingly.” –Malia Fry, wife of John David Fry
The scholarship was created through the federal Supplemental Appropriations Act 2009, which was enacted June 24, 2009.
|Forever GI Bill||GI Bill Payment Rates|
|Yellow Ribbon Program||MyCAA Accounts|
|States That Offer Free Tuition||Military Friendly Colleges Guide|
|College Credit for Military Service & Experience||Online Military Friendly Colleges|