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COVID-19 Recovery Funds Provide Scholarships for Disabled Veterans and Military Families

Applications have reopened for the NC Patriot Star Family Recovery Scholarship, which provides up to $6,500 per semester to help military and veteran families, and disabled veterans, afford higher education. The program is supported by $13 million from the state’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, an economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2021. The Patriot Foundation administers the scholarships with oversight from the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office.

“Education is more important than ever,” says Kim Gilley, Patriot Foundation President and CEO. “It can help increase your ability to support yourself and your family, even in the face of a crisis. The impacts will go on for generations.”

Since the scholarship began in 2022, nearly 300 people have benefitted across 45 colleges and universities. Those who are interested in applying can learn more at

Qualifications include:

  • Child or spouse of a fallen service member or disabled veteran, children of injured active-duty service members, or a disabled veteran with a VA disability rating of at least 50%.

  • North Carolina residents accepted to or currently attending in-state post-secondary institutions.

  • Household income less than 350% of the federal poverty level.

Funding Dreams and New Careers

Kennedy Johnson is a first-generation college student attending UNC-Chapel Hill and the daughter of a disabled veteran formerly stationed at Fort Liberty. She says she’s been able to afford her education debt-free thanks to the NC Patriot Star Family Recovery Scholarship.

“I encourage all military children who have a dream of getting a college education but feel discouraged, like they can't financially afford it,” says Johnson. “Just put yourself out there and reach out.”

Like Johnson, most scholarship recipients so far are the children of disabled veterans. But it also supports many disabled veterans themselves as they transition into the civilian workforce. If Angie Oliva hadn’t developed a medical condition, she might still be at Fort Liberty leading one of the Army’s most prestigious intelligence programs. But after 22 years of service, Oliva found she was no longer physically able to serve. She’s rated 100% disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“That took a big toll on me,” says Oliva. “It was a dark time.”

This May she will graduate from Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro with an associate degree in sustainable agriculture. The scholarship helped fully fund her final semester, preventing financial strain on her family.

“Being a student means that you’re taking a risk, especially when you’re doing something new,” says Oliva. “Having the support of the American people as you’re making this huge transition back into society lets veterans know that someone is behind them, that they do matter.”

The current application period deadline is May 15, 2024. Scholarship funds are available until they are expended or through 2026.

Interested in sharing this story?

Media is invited to download photos, b-roll, and soundbites here. The full article can also be reproduced in print or online. Please attribute all materials to the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office.

For questions about the scholarship or interview requests, contact Patriot Foundation President and CEO Kim Gilley at Questions about North Carolina’s pandemic recovery funds can be sent to NCPRO Communications Specialist

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