Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act supported by both PA Senators

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Toomey, Casey, Collins, Donnelly Pushed Bipartisan Bill to Aid Children of First Responders Killed in the Line of Duty

Washington, D.C. – The Senate made it easier for children of fallen first responders to achieve higher education.

A bill authored by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to increase 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 passed the Senate last night.

The bipartisan legislation, the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, helps the child of a fallen first responder qualify for Pell Grant aid by allowing the student to be treated as if his/her Expected Family Contribution was zero, making the student eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award authorized by law — $5,815 for a full-time student for the 2016-2017 school year.

“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,” Sen. 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. I am delighted that the Senate agrees that our bipartisan bill is one small way to say thank you. The least we can do is help to care for the family those heroes left behind and ensure 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,” Sen. 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.”

“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 Sen. 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. I am pleased that the Senate has advanced our bill, which could 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, said Harold A. Schaitberger, General President – International Association of Fire Fighters. “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.”

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 — $5,815 for a full-time student for the 2016-2017 school year.
• To qualify for a Pell Grant, students must demonstrate significant financial need. Nearly 75 percent 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.

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 Firefighters
• Major Cities Chiefs Association
• Major County Sheriffs’ Association
• National Association of Police Organizations
• National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition
• National Sheriffs’ Association
• Pennsylvania Fire Police Association
• Sergeants Benevolent Association, NYPD

SOURCE: U.S. Senator Pat Toomey press release