Casey, Toomey, Donnelly and Collins Introduce Legislation to Help Children of Fallen First Responders

New Bill Increases Amount of Pell Grant Money Available to Children of Fallen Firefighters, EMS Workers, Fire Police and Police Officers / Child Could Receive Maximum Pell Grant of $5,730 Per Year for Full Time Student / In 2013, More than 200 Public Safety Officers Were Killed in Line of Duty

Casey, Toomey, Donnelly and Collins Introduce Legislation to Help Children of Fallen First Responders

Washington DC- 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 introduced legislation to aid the children of fallen first responders. The new bill, 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 a 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 $5730 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 Sen. 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 on the line to keep our families and communities safe, and some make the ultimate sacrifice,” Donnelly said. “We must do all we can to help the families of our fallen first responders, and this should include ensuring that their children can get a good education. I hope the Senate will act soon and pass the bipartisan Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act because it would ensure the children of fallen first responders who pursue a college education have access to the maximum level of the Pell Grant.”

“We count on our first responders to be our first boots on the ground when tragedy strikes. These brave men and women make tremendous sacrifices to protect our communities and we owe them all a debt of gratitude,” said Senator Collins. “For first responders who lose their lives in the line of duty, this bipartisan legislation would increase their children’s access to an affordable education and help to ease the financial onus placed on their families. In some cases, these grants make the difference for whether a child can attend college.”

“Every day fire fighters put their lives on the line to help communities across the nation. Every year, the fire fighter community loses more than 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 2013, more than 200 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 $5730 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 considered a prior version of this legislation and determined that the costs generated by the bill were negligible and did not warrant a score.

 

What is the history of the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?

  • In the 111th Congress, this legislation was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives, introduced by Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) with bipartisan cosponsors.
  • In 113th Congress, similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) with bipartisan cosponsors. Rep Fitzpatrick is planning to introduce the bill again this session in the House.

Who supports the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act?

  • The Fraternal Order of Police
  • International Association of Firefighters
  • The Pennsylvania Fire Police Association

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