Apply to be a Tillman Scholar

The Tillman Scholar program is the premier academic fellowship for
military service members, veterans and spouses.

The 2020 application cycle is now closed. The next Tillman Scholar application cycle will open in early 2021.

What Makes A Tillman Scholar?

Our scholars have a proven track record of dedication and perseverance. They believe their best years of service are still ahead of them. Tillman Scholars are committed to strengthening communities at home and around the world.

Tillman Scholars are chosen based on these qualities:


Dedicated to service beyond self in and out of uniform


A lifelong learner, passionate about intellectual growth

Humble Leadership

Selflessly committed to leading by example


Determined to unite others and advance ideas that change the world
Everyone has their own path to forge. Tillman Scholars are changing lives and creating their own legacies.

The Tillman Scholar Network

Tillman Scholars are military service members, veterans and spouses with a high potential for impact as demonstrated through a proven track record of leadership, the continued pursuit of education and the commitment of their resources to service beyond self.

The Tenets of The Tillman Scholar Program Are:

  • Scholarship: Annual funding for academic expenses, including tuition, books and living expenses.
  • National Network: Access to a community of high-performing peers, mentors and industry leaders.
  • Leadership Development: Opportunities to advance knowledge, skills and experience.

Join the Tillman Scholar Application Mailing List

Be the first to know about Tillman Scholar application updates, information sessions, and more. Join our mailing list and receive updates exclusively about the Tillman Scholar application.

Application Information

Application Cycle Opens Feb. 1 – 29, 2020.

Who is Eligible?

The Tillman Scholar program is open to applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • Veteran and active duty service members from all branches of the military including National Guard and Reserves who have served in pre- and post-9/11 service areas
  • Current spouses of veteran or active duty service members, including surviving spouses

Spouses, veterans and service members who apply must be a full-time* student pursuing one of the following degrees at a public or private, U.S.-based, accredited institution:

  • An undergraduate degree (or above)
  • A graduate or professional degree

*full-time as determined by the institution and program of study to which an applicant is applying

Strong applicants demonstrate clear academic goals, extraordinary leadership potential and a deep desire to create positive change. They believe their best years of service to our country are still ahead of them, and they are committed to strengthening communities at home and around the world.

What is Needed to Apply?

The Tillman Scholar Program is a merit-based academic fellowship. Applicants will be required to submit the following materials:

  • Current resume
  • Two, 400-word essays based on prompts provided in the application
  • Financial worksheet
  • Character recommendation from a third party
  • Biography of no more than 250 words
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) generated through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Two photos from military service or with their spouse who is/was in the military
  • Institutional financial aid award letter
  • A background check.

Can a Tillman Scholar Award be Renewed?

Annual funding renewability will be considered for Tillman Scholars based on:

  • Meeting the expected graduation date
  • Proof of full-time student status and a minimum 3.0 GPA earned
  • Engagement with the Tillman Scholar community
  • Documented participation in service
  • Accountability for use of scholarship funds

All criteria must be met in order to be renewed. Review of renewal status is conducted each June by the foundation. Students who have to extend their expected graduation date must provide proof of extenuating circumstances. Tillman Scholars are expected to maintain full-time enrollment in a U.S. accredited institution unless they are assuming part-time status during the semester they will graduate.

Scholarship funding can only be used toward a single, post-secondary degree.

Tillman Scholar Application FAQs

Do I need to be a full-time student?

Yes, applicants must plan on being enrolled full time in their degree program during the award year(s) in order to be eligible. The definition of full-time status varies by degree program and can be verified with your Registrar’s office. Executive MBA (EMBA) students are eligible as long as your institution declares your program a full-time program.

What if I am taking my classes online?

Distance learners are eligible to apply provided they are full-time students.

Are students attending 2-year community or technical colleges or trade certification programs able to apply?

No, only those pursuing an undergraduate (bachelor’s degree), graduate or professional degree are eligible to apply.

I am working to obtain a certification in a particular academic field. Am I eligible to apply?

No, only those pursuing an undergraduate, graduate or professional degree are eligible to apply.

What is a University Partner? How do I know if my school is a University Partner?

Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner schools are listed below the FAQ section. Our University Partners help facilitate the selection process. If you are applying as a Tillman Scholar at one of these schools, please note that if you switch your school of attendance after submitting your application, you must inform [email protected] immediately.

Candidates may not matriculate at a non-University Partner institution after submitting an application at a University Partner institution and still remain eligible as an applicant. Acceptance as a Tillman Scholar at a University Partner is contingent upon matriculating at the University Partner institution.

Does it matter where my school is located?

Yes, only those attending an American institution (with the main campus being located in the U.S.) may apply to become a Tillman Scholar.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement in order to be considered?

No, there is no minimum GPA requirement to apply. However, in order to be considered for scholarship renewability for subsequent years, a minimum 3.0 GPA must be earned and maintained.

I am the child of a veteran or service member. Am I eligible to apply?

No, children are not eligible to apply for the Tillman Scholars program. Scholarships are available to military children through our partners at Fisher House Foundation, No Greater Sacrifice, ThanksUSA, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, among others.

My spouse was discharged from the military. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, spouses of active military or veteran service members, including surviving spouses, are eligible to apply. Applicants must provide proof of their spouse’s military service as part of the application process.

I am a service member/veteran and my spouse is also a service member/veteran. Should I apply as a spouse or a service member?

You should apply as a service member if you have served or are currently serving in the military.

What if I have not yet enrolled in a particular school? Can I still apply?

If you have not been accepted to an institution by February 29, you may still apply to become a Tillman Scholar. However, you must be accepted to at least one institution by April 1, 2020. If your acceptance status changes, please email [email protected] with your acceptance information. If you are not accepted by April 1, selection will no longer be able to consider your application for this application cycle. Candidates are eligible to reapply in subsequent years. If you have applied to a University Partner institution but have not yet been accepted, becoming a Tillman Scholar is contingent upon being accepted to that particular institution. (See the University Partner question for more details.)

I see there is a background check requirement. I am concerned about an event in the past. What’s your policy?

Only applicants who make it to the video interview round of the selection process are required to complete a background check. For further details, contact [email protected].

A question on the application is asking me to enter a date. What if I am unsure of the exact date?

If you do not know the exact date, please enter your best estimate.

I’m having trouble uploading documents in the application portal. What can I do?

Try using a different browser, computer or internet network. Ensure the naming convention and file format meet the requirements outlined on the application instructions. If the problem persists, please email [email protected] with the issue and attach the document you are trying to upload.

Are essays required for this application?

Yes, there are two (2) required 400-word essays exploring the following areas: your motivation for military and public service and experiences; and your academic, career and future service ambitions.

Are letters of recommendation required for this application?

Each applicant will be required to provide one point of contact who will submit a character recommendation. That person will receive a unique log-in from the Pat Tillman Foundation and will be required to answer three standardized questions pertaining to your character (each question has a maximum word count of 100-200 words). Their recommendation will be confidential and the applicant will not be able to see it. The applicant will receive a notification from the system when their recommendation has been completed. An application is not considered eligible for submission until this recommendation has been completed. The recommender will not need to write a separate letter of recommendation. Please Note: the applicant must log into the application after the character recommendation is complete and submit their application in order for it to be considered by the Pat Tillman Foundation.

What if my recommender has not submitted their recommendation and the deadline is coming up?

We highly suggest that you contact your recommender at the start of the application process to maximize the time they will have to submit their character reference. In the event that the deadline is approaching and your recommender has not yet submitted your character reference, we suggest that you request a character recommendation from another individual. To do this, you must first delete the current request for a recommendation in your application, and then you will be able to submit a new request. Please note, the recommendation is required and you will not be able to submit the application unless a recommendation has been provided. Recommenders who have not yet submitted their recommendation will receive email reminders from the system.

What documents are acceptable to confirm my/my spouses military service?

A DD214 or valid personal service record, i.e. Officer Record Brief (ORB), Enlistment Record Brief (ERB), Basic Individual Record (BIR), Personal Data Record (PDR), Performance Summary Record (PSR) or Report on Individual Personnel (RIP) will be accepted as proof of military service.

What if I cannot obtain one of the listed military service documents?

We may accept other forms that verify military service. If you have several forms that collectively document the following four items of information, we will gladly accept them. If this is the case, scan all forms as a single .pdf file into the application:

  1.  A date of entry into active duty;
  2. A date of separation or release from active duty;
  3. Verification of awards or decorations mentioned elsewhere in this application; and
  4. The character of the discharge (proof of honorable discharge or separation).

*Please black out your social security number on all forms before uploading. If you progress through the selection process, we may reach out with questions or require you to provide additional documentation.

I do not have a digital version of my military service document. Can I fax or mail in a hard copy?

No, only documents uploaded to the online application will be accepted. Please scan and upload your hard copy document to convert it to a digital copy for submission.

What if there is sensitive information (e.g. Social Security Number) included in my military service document and I do not want to transmit this over the internet?

Please be sure to black out your social security number before uploading the document.

I am hesitant about the security of the overall process and the online application. What measures do you take to protect my information?

The Tillman Scholars selection process is directly supervised by a team of three employees at the Pat Tillman Foundation: the Director of Programs & Scholarships, the Scholarships Manager and the Programs Manager. Pat Tillman Foundation staff members are the only individuals with access to full applications. After applications are complete, they are presented in a review process to trained committee members. Your demographic information (including ethnicity and gender) and financial information will not be visible to the committee members. All committee members, as well as participating PTF staff members, are required to sign confidentiality agreements, which strictly prohibit use of applicant information for any purpose except for evaluation of the application. Throughout the process, all sensitive information is recognized and handled appropriately. The application is hosted on a secure site and you can read Fluid Review’s privacy policy here.

Is a transcript or academic record required for this application?

No, a previous transcript is not required as part of the Tillman Scholar application process.

What information do you require to substantiate my financial need?

As part of the application, you will be required to estimate financial information for the 2020-2021 academic year including:

  1. Academic expenses (e.g., tuition, books, fees)
  2. Living and personal expenses (e.g., insurance, childcare, rent, meals, transportation)
  3. Sources of income (e.g., salary, GI Bill and other federal benefits, other scholarships)

Please be sure to follow the prompts for joint (if married) and individual financial information.

The dollar amounts on the financial page do not fully represent my true need. How can I explain my financial circumstances further?

Use the response box on the financial page to explain your numbers, or provide any further information that may help us better understand your situation or any anticipated changed more comprehensively.

How much is the award amount if I am chosen as a Tillman Scholar?

Selection as a Tillman Scholar is merit-based. Tillman Scholars can anticipate an average scholarship of $11,000 per academic year.

I applied for this program last year and was not accepted. Can I apply again this year?

Yes, you may apply again. Many current Tillman Scholars applied in the past and were accepted on subsequent attempts.

I used my scholarship funding as a Tillman Scholar to fund a previous degree. Can I apply again for another degree?

No, scholarship funding can only be used toward a single degree per Tillman Scholar.

What types of expenses can I use my scholarship funds for, should I be selected?

Scholarship funds may be used to cover either academic or living expenses and exclude the following: investments, vacation travel, business expenses or personal entertainment.

If I am selected as a Tillman Scholar, when will the award funds be available?

Funding will be sent to your institution no later than July 31, 2020

What should I do if I have completed my application, but the website will not allow me to submit the completed application?

Ensure all tasks in your application portal show a green check mark. If any show a grey circle or a half full green circle, you will need to complete the task and/or mark the task complete. You should then be able to submit your application. If you are still experiencing issues, please contact Survey Monkey Apply Customer Support.

When is the application due?

February 29, 2020 at 11:59:59 PM PT.

Can I start the application, save my inputs, and return later to complete it?

Yes, you can save and exit at any time and return to saved work. Please note that you must hit “save and continue editing this page” in order to save the work on that page if the entire page is not completed.

When can I expect to hear about the status of my application?

All applicants will receive a confirmation email upon submission of your application. For those that advance to the next stage, interviews will be held in mid-May. All candidates will receive notification of their acceptance by June 1, 2020. The 2020 class of Tillman Scholars will be announced in June 2020.

University Partners

The following institutions are partners with the Pat Tillman Foundation. These partners demonstrate strong support for their military veterans and spouses and are proud to support Tillman Scholars on their campuses. The Pat Tillman Foundation accepts University Partners on an invitation-only basis and is not accepting new University Partners at this time.

If you are a student at one of our University Partners and have a question specific to your institution, please click the logo of your school and contact the person listed.

Meet the Tillman Scholars

The Pat Tillman Foundation has named more than 580 Tillman Scholars at over 100 institutions across the country. They are the next generation of leaders who are committed to service, scholarship, leadership and impact.

Meet The Scholars