Senate Passes Legislation Coauthored by Senator Collins to Help Children of Fallen First Responders Attend College

Washington, D.C. –Last night, the Senate passed a bill authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to increase the amount of Pell Grant aid available to qualifying students who are the children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and fire police.

The bipartisan legislation, the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, makes the child of a fallen first responder with financial need eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award.

“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. 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.”

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.
  • 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.

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