UND scholarship partnership to help students from military families

UND has partnered with the Heart of America Patriot Foundation to provide scholarships for dependents of deceased and permanently and totally disabled veterans.

Students gather around the eternal flame on UND’s campus. File photo.
Students gather around the eternal flame on UND’s campus. File photo.

GRAND FORKS — UND has entered into a scholarship partnership with an organization that aims to help dependents of certain military families graduate college debt free.

UND has partnered with the Heart of America Patriot Foundation to provide scholarships for dependents of deceased and permanently and totally disabled veterans, according to a UND news release. The foundation specializes in such scholarships, and has partnered with a dozen institutions around the Midwest to make them a reality, though UND is the first institution in the Dakotas to sign a matching-fund agreement with the organization.

“Our vision at the Foundation is of a nation where dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans can attain a debt-free college education,” said Al Gorthy, president of the Kansas-based Foundation and a retired U.S. Navy captain. “We’re very proud to be partnering with the University of North Dakota to help these students attain their educational dreams.”

As part of the new program, UND will provide $10,000 a year for the scholarships, and the foundation will match that amount. Through fundraising over the next few years, UND is looking to raise its annual contribution to $25,000, an amount that the foundation has promised to match.

President Andrew Armacost thanked the Ffoundation for its match and for the opportunity to further assist the nation’s veterans.


“One of the primary goals of the University of North Dakota’s strategic plan is to serve the needs of the military,” he said. “As an Air Force veteran, I’m proud to know that we’ve not only earned the reputation for doing this, but we’ve also gained recognition as one of the nation’s top military-friendly universities.”

Armacost continued: “Providing scholarship opportunities by working with the Heart of America Patriot Foundation is a continuation of our effort to deliver first-class education to the dependents of deceased and disabled veterans. UND is honored to be one of the universities providing scholarships in partnership with the foundation.”

Unmet needs

The scholarships are meant to complement benefits that dependents receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the VA’s website, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training to qualified dependents of veterans who are either permanently and totally disabled because of a service-related condition, or who died while on active duty or because of a service-related condition.

Beneficiaries can receive about $1,300 per month for education or full-time training, but according to the UND release, that stipend is generally enough to cover only living expenses, not tuition, books and fees.

“This new program is meant to help cover those costs, and that’s vital, because financial need tends to be a big reason why students interrupt or discontinue their education without getting a degree, ” said Angie Carpenter, director of special student populations for UND.

The foundation got its start in 2012, when the organization’s founders wanted to do something for veterans coming back to the Kansas City area from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The founders settled on the idea of a golf-tournament fundraiser, and to this day, the Foundation’s annual Patriot Benefit golf tournament remains the organization’s signature fundraising event. Other sources of revenue include private donors and fellow nonprofits that support the Foundation’s mission

Partnering with universities means the foundation does not have to process scholarship applications. This enables the organization to keep its administrative costs low, so it can ensure the majority of its funds go to the universities, and then on to the students.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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