ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 11, 2016) -- Army Emergency Relief, or AER, has announced the opening of its scholarship application period. Applications will be accepted until May 1.AER supports both the Spouse Scholarship Program, as well as the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Scholarship specifics and 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.Last year AER awarded 4,245 scholarships, totaling more than $9 million for spouses and children of Soldiers."The entire scholarship process is online," said Tammy LaCroix, manager for AER's scholarship programs. "Applicants are able to create their own profile, submit their documentation online, and check their status, which is a huge time saver for both the applicants and the scholarship staff.""This is a valuable opportunity for the children and spouses of Soldiers," LaCroix said. "We saw an increase in the number of applications last year and hope this trend continues this year."The entire application package for the 2016-2017 school year must be submitted online by May 1. This includes the application as well as the supporting documents.Most applicants will need to provide transcripts (through the fall semester), according to LaCroix, along with a Student Aid Report, or SAR, from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA. The sponsoring Soldier's Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES, should also be submitted for active-duty Soldiers.AER awards are "needs-based" scholarships based on the FAFSA and transcripts, LaCroix said. The amount of the award varies based on the number of qualified applicants and scholarship funds available, she said. Last year, the award amounts ranged from $500 to $3,300.AER is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to active-duty and retired Soldiers, 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.