Starting this fall, students whose parents or spouses were killed or disabled in military service can attend the University of Memphis without paying tuition, university officials announced Wednesday.
“The University of Memphis is the first institution of higher learning nationally to partner with Folds of Honor to support higher education for spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members,” said Dr. M. David Rudd, the university’s president.
The Folds of Honor scholarship offers $5,000 annually – with the addition of private donations and other support funds to cover the financial gap – as payment in full for tuition for all Tennessee residents and others around the country, in accordance with capacity.
“We would not exist as a country without the service and sacrifice of so many who defend our freedom,” said Rudd, who is a veteran. “The families are serving as well, and the loss of a parent or spouse presents a huge hardship, emotionally and financially. The University of Memphis is committed to cover any gap that exists and to relieve these families of that burden.
“The hope is that other universities will follow, helping the University of Memphis establish a national consortium committed to recognizing the remarkable contributions and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.”
The university accepts the national Folds of Honor Scholarship, which undergraduate students under age 24 can receive if a parent was severely injured or killed while on active duty. Spouses of any age also qualify if they have not remarried.
Beginning in the fall, the university will accept that scholarship as full payment, the first institution of higher education to do so.
Average university tuition is about $9,700 a year, which does not include room and board, fees and textbooks. Rudd said the university will help qualifying students seek other scholarships, as well.
“This sacrifice is remarkable and we need to recognize that,” Rudd said.
University of Memphis Trustee David North was instrumental in making the connection with Folds of Honor. He presented the idea to the university’s board earlier this year and it was approved, the university said.
A formal agreement between the university and Folds of Honor is expected within weeks.
“The scholarship arrangement is still in the planning stages, and there will be more details available in coming weeks, said Chuck Gallina, a University of Memphis spokesman. “There are many details to be worked out.”
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission named the University of Memphis a VETS Campus in 2015, one of 12 institutions in Tennessee to be recognized for its service to student veterans.