Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that they have reintroduced legislation to aid the children of fallen first responders. The Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, increases the amount of Pell Grant money available to qualifying students who are the children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and fire police. If the child of a fallen first responder qualifies for Pell Grant aid, this bill would allow that student to be treated as if his/her Expected Family Contribution (EFC) was zero, making the student eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award authorized by law, currently $5,815 per year for a full-time student.
"Our first responders make sacrifices for communities across the nation on a daily basis. Our nation has a deep and abiding obligation to the children of first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice," Senator Casey said. "The loss of a parent takes an unimaginable toll on a child. This legislation is a commonsense step that Congress can take to ease the burden that these children confront as they prepare to enter college."
"When chaos and destruction come, our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders run into the breach, risking their own safety in order to save lives," said Senator Toomey. "Too often, they make the ultimate sacrifice. We owe our first responders and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay. This bipartisan bill makes one small contribution to caring for the family they left behind, ensuring their children are able to receive an education."
“Our first responders—law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMS workers—put their lives at risk to keep our families and communities safe, and some make the ultimate sacrifice,” Senator Donnelly said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to these families and should do everything possible to help ensure the children of fallen first responders can access a good education.”
“Our nation’s local first responders are always there to answer the call when an emergency arises, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they make to protect our communities,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would increase access to an affordable education for children of first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty. By easing their families’ financial burden, our legislation could make the difference for whether a child can attend college.”
“In 2016, 140 law enforcement officers lost their lives in the United States. That’s 140 officers who will never be able to see their families again. While no amount of financial assistance can replace a loved one, providing children of fallen officers with Federal Pell Grants for their college education is a noble act.” Chuck Canterbury, National President – Fraternal Order of Police
“Every day fire fighters put their lives on the line to help communities across the nation. Every year, the fire fighter community loses nearly 100 dedicated members due to death in the line of duty. While the loss of a fire fighter has a ripple effect throughout the community, no one suffers more than the families of fallen fire fighters. The Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act provides critical help to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.” Harold A. Schaitberger, General President - International Association of Fire Fighters
In 2016, more than 230 public safety officers were killed in the line of duty, including law enforcement, firefighters, EMS workers, and fire police. This bill would help ease the financial burden on children of fallen first responders by increasing federal student aid opportunities for those children who pursue a college education.
What is the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?
- The bill increases the amount of Pell Grant money available to qualifying students who are the children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and fire police.
- Pell Grants are distributed based on students’ financial need using a formula that determines how much each student/family is able to pay towards that student’s education, known as their expected family contribution (EFC).”
- If the child of a fallen first responder qualifies for Pell Grant aid, this bill would allow that student to be treated as if his/her EFC was zero, making the student eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award authorized by law, currently $5,815 per year for a full-time student.
- To qualify for a Pell Grant, students must demonstrate significant financial need. Nearly 75% of Pell Grant recipients have a family income of $30,000 or less.
- A similar benefit is provided for children of parents in the Armed Forces who were killed in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.
What is the cost for the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?
- The CBO has analyzed this legislation and determined that the costs generated by the bill are negligible on discretionary spending. There is no mandatory cost associated with this bill.
What is the history of the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?
- In the 111th Congress, identical legislation was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives, with bipartisan cosponsors.
- In the 114th Congress, this legislation was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.
- A corresponding bill, H.R. 949, has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) & Representative Brendan Boyle (D-PA).
Who supports the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association ? Fraternal Order of Police ? International Association of Chiefs of Police ? International Association of Fire Fighters ? Major Cities Chiefs Association ? Major County Sheriffs’ Association ? National Association of Police Organizations ? National Narcotic Officers Associations’ Coalition ? National Volunteer Fire Council ? Pennsylvania Fire Police Association ? Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD