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Scholarships help offset educational expenses

Posted 12/10/2010   Updated 12/17/2010 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/10/2010 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- If you received $100 scholarship, what would you do? A $100 scholarship may not be enough to pay for all school expenses, but for Senior Airman Matthew Imschweiler, it will help offset some of his education expenditures.

Currently, the 31st Communications Squadron radio frequency transmissions technician is working on his Community College of the Air Force degree. Last month, he submitted an essay about the Air Force's new motto, "Aim High ... Fly, Fight, Win," to the Aviano Chief's Group scholarship programand in turn earned $100 as the winning entrant.

"It's a great opportunity, but it's also challenging," Airman Imschweiler said.

After weeks of wondering, on Nov. 25, he received the good news; he got the scholarship.

"I always hear that people don't take advantage of this stuff," Airman Imschweiler said. "They probably think they won't win it. Well, you don't know unless you try."

Various local scholarship programs offer financial aid to Aviano Air Base Airmen to further their education. Airmen can tap in to these resources to help alleviate some of their educational expenses.

As part of servicemembers' benefits, Airmen have the tuition assistance program as well as Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bills.

"Tuition assistance is the military's educational benefit to the active-duty servicemember," Dr. David Muhleman, 31st Force Support Squadron Education and Training chief. "Tuition assistance provides (monetary help) towards associates, bachelors and masters degrees. It covers the tuition and some limited fees."

Provided by the Veterans' Administration, the Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI bills can cover tuition fees, housing allowance, books and related costs of going to school, depending on service status and the school program servicemembers chose.

Under tuitions assistance, Airmen may receive up to $4,500 a year to continue their education, Dr. Muhleman said. For the GI Bill, it is limited to 36 months worth of benefit and depends on the course load, residence, rank and other factors.

With most active-duty Airmen opting to use tuition assistance, they incur out-of-pocket expenses that mainly include books.

Some organizations that provide scholarships to Airmen include the Air Force Sergeants Association, Aviano 5/6 Association, Aviano Top Three Association and Aviano Chief's Group. These organizations provide approximately $2,000 worth of scholarship per term.

"Scholarship programs are important," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Meyers, 31st Maintenance Squadron superintendent and Chiefs' Group scholarship program chairman. "There are a lot of organizations on base that give out scholarships that, if you use two or more, you may end up getting your books for free. There are a lot of opportunities out there."

Most of these scholarships are available to active-duty enlisted Airmen from E-1 to E-6 stationed at Aviano AB or its geographically separated units. To receive these scholarships, Airmen are required to write short essays on topics that are current and relevant to the Air Force.

There are also educational programs for active-duty military family members. These include the Spouse's Tuition Assistance Program, Aviano Community Enlisted Spouses Club and Aviano Officers' and Civilian Spouses' Club.

"These scholarships help with education and should encourage spouses to obtain their college degrees," said Angelina Lilavois, Aviano Community Enlisted Spouses Club Scholarship Committee chair. "By offering scholarships to help pay for their education, we hope spouses and dependents will receive their college degree."

These scholarships also require spouses and dependents to submit essays that are relevant to military life. Approximately $1,500 worth of scholarships is given to spouses and dependents per term.

In addition, there are national organizations that provide scholarship grants to students to help with their education.

Dr. Muhleman attributed education as a matter of quality of life. With education, people make more money, have more opportunities, go more places and do other things.

"Education opens so many doors that your life has more opportunity," he said. "It is important because it allows you to do more with your life than you could if you are not educated."

For Airman Imschweiler, education is "big."

"Education is something that no matter what happens, it can never be taken from you," he said.

For a complete list of scholarship programs available to Aviano AB Airmen, contact the Education Center at DSN 632-5330 or click here.

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