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their first annual book sale — a practice that still continues
today. AAFSW now also sponsors scholarships under the
AFSA Financial Aid Scholarship Program.
Over the years, many other persons and groups wishing to
recognize Foreign Service personnel
who have died or who have had a spe-
cial concern for the Foreign Service
have made gifts to the scholarship
program, and each scholarship that is
established is unique.
For example, the Public Members
Association of the Foreign Service —
whose members serve as public
members of selection boards, pro-
motion panels and inspection teams
for Foreign Service personnel — es-
tablished a scholarship that is
awarded to a college junior or senior
planning to enter the Foreign Serv-
ice as a career. It has made a contri-
bution to the scholarship fund every year since 1992.
In the last several years, the Scholarship Fund has been
the beneficiary of several large bequests. The program also
receives donations through the Combined Federal Cam-
paign and the AFSA Scholarship Fund’s Annual Appeal, as
well as from AFSA members who choose to contribute when
they renew their membership.
Recognizing Financial Need and Merit
The financial aid program is designed to help families
cover higher education costs. AFSA employs a formula to
assess need that is used by many U.S. educational institu-
tions, in which family and student asset and income along
with other data are factored into the equation. Applicants
must be full-time students and maintain a grade point aver-
age of 2.0.
Under this program, AFSA has in recent years provided
aid to between 50 and 70 Foreign Service dependents an-
nually in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. We rec-
ognize that this does not come close to covering the current
costs of university and college, but we are sanguine that it
helps. The grants can be given each year for four years of
college. There can be multiple awards to a family, up to a
total of $10,000 per year.
In 1976, AFSA and AAFSW decided jointly to establish a
distinct, competitive merit awards program for outstanding
high school seniors. At its inception, this program provided
awards for academic accomplishment; awards for achieve-
ment in the arts and community service were added to the
program during the 1990s.
The application process for the Merit Award program is
similar to that for college admission. The elements consid-
ered are GPA, standardized test scores, activities, and com-
munity service. Applicants for the Art Merit Award submit
graphic art, creative writing, dance, and music entries. Ap-
plicants for the Academic Merit Award must also submit an
essay on a topic related to their life as
Foreign Service dependents, and
each year a “best essay” winner is cho-
Each year we receive about 90
academic and art merit applications
and grant about 25 awards. These
awards are not considered scholar-
ships, but rather recognize superior
Merit awards confer $2,000 for a
full award and $1,000 for an honor-
able mention. One of my greatest
pleasures has been to assisting the
AFSA president in presenting these
awards to winners in the Washington,
D.C., area on Foreign Affairs Day each year.
The Scholarship Fund Portfolio
The AFSA Scholarship Fund’s portfolio is held in stocks,
bonds, notes and cash. As of the end of 2011, total assets
were almost $5 million. The Scholarship Fund is an IRS Sec-
tion 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt entity that is separate from
AFSA. The association’s Finance and Audit Committee
oversees the management of the AFSA Scholarship Fund
endowment and shares information on this with the Schol-
arship Committee. The portfolio is managed by the broker-
age firm Convergent Wealth Advisors.
M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
In 1976, AFSA and
AAFSW decided jointly to
establish a distinct, competitive
merit awards program for
outstanding high school seniors.
Zachary Charles receives his Academic Merit Award from
AFSA President John Naland and Amb. C. Edward Dillery
in 2009.