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The Horatio Alger Association has announced the first-ever national scholarship open exclusively to men and women who have served in the U.S. military in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The $5,000 scholarships are to be paid directly to the school in $1,250 increments over four years.

“In the first year, we’re aiming to [give out] a minimum of 100 (scholarships). We’re expecting to get more, but that’s our goal for now,” said Patrick Burns, special projects coordinator at the Alger Association.

According to the association, the applicants selected for the scholarship must:

Demonstrate integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity.Demonstrate a strong desire to pursue higher education.Prove service with the U.S. military in the Afghan and/or Iraqi theaters of conflict in 2001 or later (Form DD214).Intend to pursue a bachelors degree at an accredited college or university (awardees may start their studies at a two-year institution and then transfer to a four-year institution).Prove critical financial need.Be a U.S. citizen.To apply, applicants should submit an application online at by Sept. 1.

Applicants must submit a copy of the front page of their tax return (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) for 2004 in order to verify income stated on application.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros, a chairman emeritus of the organization, and his wife, Julia, were inspired to create the scholarship after meeting with wounded soldiers at Rota Naval Air Station, Spain.

They donated $5 million to help set it up.

According to the organization’s Web site, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans honors the achievements of outstanding individuals who have succeeded in spite of adversity and encourages young people to pursue their dreams through higher education.

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