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ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Jan. 6, 2015) -- Army Emergency Relief, or AER, began accepting applications for next year's scholarships and the application period will remain open through May 1.

Last year, AER awarded 3,637 scholarships, totaling more than $8.8 million to the spouses and children of Soldiers.

AER supports both the Spouse Scholarship Program, as well as the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Specific details on the scholarship and the applications are available on AER's website.

The Spouse Scholarship can be used for full- or part-time students, while the Ursano Scholarship is only for full-time students.

"The entire scholarship process is online," said Tammy LaCroix, manager for AER's scholarship programs. "Last year, we found that the online process worked best for those who downloaded the step-by-step instructions and used them as a checklist."

"Applicants are able to create their own profile, submit their documentation online, and check their status," added LaCroix. "This proved to be a huge timesaver for both the applicants and the scholarship staff."

The entire application package for the 2015-2016 school year must be submitted online by May 1. This includes the application as well as all required supporting documents. Most applicants will need to provide transcripts (through the fall semester), and a Student Aid Report from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA. Active-duty Soldiers will also need to provide a leave and earnings statement.

AER awards "needs-based" scholarships, based on FAFSA and transcripts, officials explained. The amount of the award varies, based on the number of qualified applicants and scholarship funds available. Last year, the average award was $2,600 for children and $1,900 for spouses.

Army Emergency Relief is a private, non-profit organization, dedicated to providing financial assistance to Soldiers, active and retired, and their families. Since its incorporation in 1942, AER has provided more than $1.6 billion to more than 3.6 million Soldiers, families and retirees.

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