ALEXANDRIA, Va . — Army Emergency Reliefhas opened its scholarship application period for the 2014 to 2015 school year.

Applications from spouses and dependent children of Soldiers will be accepted from now until May 1, officials said.

This year, scholarships will be awarded based solely on financial need, said Tammy LaCroix, manager for AER, AER’s scholarship programs.

Scholarship is AER’s secondary mission is scholarship.  Funds are included in the yearly budget set by the board of directors. AER as a whole, is funded by contributions, investment income and loan repayments explained Darla Cureton, Fort Bragg AER officer, Financial Readiness Office.

“Many Soldiers are not aware of the scholarship programs but the dependents who did benefit said they were truly grateful. We realize there is a need for this program but it has been difficult getting the word out to the Soldiers and Family members,” said Darla Cureton, Fort Bragg AER officer, Financial Readiness Office.

AER is funded by contributions, investment income and loan repayments explained Cureton.

Last year AER awarded 4,629 scholarships, totaling more than $10 million to spouses and children of Soldiers, including scholarships to 1,148 spouses and awards to 3,481 children.

In previous years, some scholarships were awarded based on scholastic achievement and leadership, LaCroix said. For instance, if students could demonstrate leadership, such as serving as class president, leading a Scout troop or serving in an ROTC leadership position, that in itself was worth a $500 scholarship. If their grade point average was above a 3.5, that could be worth another $500.

At Fort Bragg, in past years, about 97 percent of the applicants who completed the application process received an award, said Cureton.

Those scholarships are helping send students this year to about 1,400 schools, ranging from Harvard to Alabama State to American Military University. Some of the students are attending university classes online and a few are going to vocational or cosmetology schools, LaCroix said.

The most common reason for applicants to be turned down was incomplete packets, LaCroix said.

At Fort Bragg, the AER office can help Soldiers and Family members with completing the online application, Cureton said.

Only spouses and dependent children of active-duty Soldiers are eligible for the scholarships, LaCroix said, but added this includes dependents of activated Army Reserve and National Guard troops, as long as they will remain on active-duty for the 2014 to 2015 school year.