UA partners with Pat Tillman Scholars program



The University of Alabama has been named a University Partner with the Pat Tillman Military Scholars program for the 2013-2014 academic year, increasing UA student-veterans’ chances to win Pat Tillman Foundation scholarships.

Alabama joins the ranks of 15 other U.S. universities, including three other SEC schools, as a University Partner, which ensures resources for veterans, service members and their spouses in addition to scholarship money, Alexandra Karagas, coordinator of Veteran and Military Affairs within the University’s Veterans Affairs office, said.

Funding for education has been made a greater possibility for veteran and active service students and their spouses through Alabama’s recent selection as a University Partner with the Pat Tillman Military Scholars program for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The University’s partnership with the foundation increases chances for the selection of Tillman scholars on campus and ensures resources for veterans, service members and their spouses, Karagas, coordinator of veteran and military affairs, explained.

“The Pat Tillman Foundation is a proud example of a group dedicated to service members, veterans and their spouses pursuing their education career, and this foundation provides an opportunity for individuals to alleviate sacrificing financially in order to focus on educational goals,” Karagas said. “We are honored to be chosen [as a partner] and know it is because of the commitment of The University of Alabama administration to this population.”

University Partners are influential in identifying candidates, but once the applications reach the selection committee at the foundation, the process becomes blind, so it can vary each year,” Karagas said.

The scholarship requirements include being a full-time student who has served or is serving with any branch of the military. The scholarship recipients typically have a strong education and military background and plan to use that background to impact others, according to the foundation.

Zach Boyd, a junior majoring in finance, discussed his intent for the scholarship if selected.

“I’m currently on the G.I. Bill, because in between insurance, daily expenses and child care for my son, Luke, it was pretty tough to get the bills paid. I wanted to apply for the Pat Tillman scholarship because tuition is one thing I wanted to help cover since I’m a full-time student and my wife is the only one working,” Boyd said. “The Pat Tillman scholarship is also very prestigious in regards to the military community, and that’s another reason I wanted to apply.”

Boyd also elaborated on why the scholarship is different from other funding for students with military ties.

“It’s one of the most intensive scholarships, because they not only look at what you’re doing in your educational careers, but they look at what you did or are doing in your military career. They understand the military thing, and they want the information, which is rare,” Boyd said. “They care about each individual applicant, each one is hand selected, and they want to help that person.”

Pat Tillman put an NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold after 9/11, enlisting in the Army in 2002 and deploying to Afghanistan. Following his death in 2004, family and friends founded his namesake foundation.

The benefits of the Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship are different from others in that the funding can be utilized for more than tuition. Tony Alba, marketing communications manager for the Pat Tillman Foundation, magnified the reasons why the Tillman Scholars program is a rare breed.

“The scholarship can be used for child care or even housing; it fills in the gap of the post 9/11 G.I. bill and it’s not your traditional scholar program,” Alba said. “Community was important to Pat, so as a Tillman scholar, you’re expected to be a part of the scholar community by attending events and even staying connected through blogs.”

The Pat Tillman Foundation has budgeted somewhere in excess of 1 million dollars for funding, allowing for around 60 scholarships to be awarded, according to Alba.

Applications for the scholarship are due Feb. 15 and the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs will assist applicants. Students interested in the scholarship and the application process are asked to email vma@bama.ua.edu.

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