- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2007

Hundreds of young people who lost a parent or guardian to terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been or will be given “full ride” scholarships to the college of their choice. That is guaranteed payment to any school in the world.

So far, 144 students have attended college on a special scholarship program set up by the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund. FEEA is financed by contributions from federal workers, retirees, members of the general public and corporations such as Geico. Last week, Geico kicked in another $25,000 to the FEEA scholarship program.

The scholarships were set up after the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The idea was to provide emergency relief to the families of the 168 persons, many of them federal workers, who were killed in the blast. FEEA provided immediate financial assistance to many of the families and set up a special OK Fund to provide full scholarships to every child who lost a parent in the explosion. A child born several months after the attack was made eligible for the scholarship.

As of this month, more than $4.3 million has been given in scholarships. About 60 children have not reached college age but are eligible for the full ride. FEEA Executive Director Steve Bauer said the young people “can go to any school they can get into, whether that’s Harvard, Stanford, Oxford or a community college. It’s their call.”

He said FEEA would provide full financial aid. “All [the students] need,” he said, “is the grades.”

Many of the scholars have chosen careers in the so-called “helping professions” such as teaching, physical therapy, special education and counseling. Many have attended college in Oklahoma, “probably to stay close to home, and to parents and siblings,” Mr. Bauer said.

After the September 11 attacks, FEEA set up another fund for federal families in New York and the Washington metro area who lost loved ones. It provided more than $400,000 in immediate relief the first month. The scholarship program also applies to children of civilian or military personnel who were killed or permanently disabled by the attacks. Nine children of September 11 victims are in college on scholarships, and FEEA estimates another 60 will benefit from the program. The last one eligible for the scholarship will be old enough to attend college in about 15 years.

Your 401(k) plan in action

The value of the federal Thrift Savings Plan jumped more than $5 billion last month. That boosted its worth from $213 billion in March to a record $218.9 billion in April.

Some of the gains came in the form of contributions from employees and matching government contributions for participants under the Federal Employees Retirement System. Most of the increase reflects the jump in the stock market for April.

That increase would have been higher had thousands of workers not bailed out of the I Fund in late February and early March and moved into the “safer” but relatively sluggish Treasury securities and bond index funds.

For the 12-month period ending in April, the G Fund that holds Treasury securities returned 5.03 percent and the F Fund of bonds returned 7.37 percent. By contrast, the S&P; 500 stock index fund returned 15.23 percent, the S Fund of small-cap stocks returned 11.67 percent and the international stock-index I Fund returned 18.99 percent.

Mike Causey, senior editor at Federal News Radio AM 1050, can be reached at 202/895-5132 or mcausey @federalnewsradio.com.

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