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ASU students benefit from military spouse scholarship


Man in black shirt and hat and woman with brown hair and jean jacket pose on Palm Walk holding hands

Third-year ASU honors students David Stout and Ashlan Bergh pose on Palm Walk on Friday, Oct. 27. Bergh, a psychology and sociology student, is the recipient of the Spouses of Military Veterans Tuition Scholarship due to Stout’s Naval career. He is studying neuroscience and plans to pursue a graduate degree in applied math. She intends to earn her doctorate in research psychology. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

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November 03, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of our Salute to Service coverage, Nov. 8–18. Learn about the schedule of events.  

Last year, Arizona State University student Ashlan Bergh’s financial aid was close to exceeding its limit. She didn’t know how she was going to continue paying for her dual degrees in psychology and sociology.

It was late August; the semester had already started and tuition was due. Then her husband, David, a Navy veteran, forwarded her an email from the Pat Tillman Veterans Center that changed their lives.

“This award ensures tuition and fees are covered for ASU students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree and are married to an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces,” it read.

She met all of the eligibility requirements: Bergh was an Arizona resident, was the spouse of an honorably discharged veteran, completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine federal aid eligibility, and had been enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an ASU location.

Bergh filled out the form, hit the send button, and in October learned that the rest of her education was going to be covered. 

“It was definitely unexpected,” said Bergh, who is on track to graduate in December 2024. “I can’t even put into words how grateful I am for this opportunity.”

The Spouses of Military Veterans Tuition Scholarship seemed too good to be true. But through funding approved by the state, the scholarship was created as a “last dollar” award that covers the remaining cost of tuition and fees after all gift aid is received. Awards are reduced by the amount of any federal gift aid, scholarships, public grants and any other form of financial gift assistance. Contingent on continued funding, the scholarship is renewable for eight semesters.

Shawn Banzhaf, executive director of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, said he's happy to be able to support veterans and their families with this scholarship.

"ASU is grateful for the many sacrifices our military service personnel make to protect America's freedoms," Banzhaf said. "We also recognize that the sacrifices military spouses and families make are also a form of service to the nation. As such, we are proud to invite them into our academic community and ensure that their academic goals remain attainable through this scholarship.”

RELATED: Director expanding ASU's Tillman Center programs, services

Melissa Pizzo, associate vice president of Academic Enterprise Enrollment, said just in the fall semester alone, the scholarship has helped more than 50 students in pursuing the attainment of their degrees, with at least $400,00 expected to be awarded before the end of the academic year.

“We appreciate the continued funding that allows ASU to make this life-changing scholarship opportunity available to our veterans’ families,” Pizzo said.

It certainly changed Bergh’s life. She said her husband experienced a neurological impairment with stroke symptoms a few years ago, which led to his discharge. She said the tuition scholarship has enabled her to quit her job in health care to study full time.

“We’re grateful for the kindness and support of the Tillman Center and ASU,” Bergh said.

The scholarship has also made a difference in the life of Chaz Moore, whose life in Niger was upended this past summer.

In July, the country’s presidential guard, headed up by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, unseated former President Mohamed Bazoum and installed himself as the country’s new leader. While her husband, who works for the state, remains there in his state department capacities, the coup sent her and her three children back to Arizona.

Moore, an anthropology major, said the tuition scholarship also came in handy.

“Not only did the coup turn our lives upside down, but it came with extra expenses,” said Moore, who will graduate this December. “I’ve had to buy a car, we had to pay unexpected rent, brand new school shopping… This scholarship allowed us to continue living and for me to continue my education.”

For more information about the Spouses of Military Veterans Tuition Scholarship, email scholarships@asu.edu or call (855) 278-5080.

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