Aamds Scholarship Essay

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Originally published on Tue, 02/25/2014 - 4:42pm. Last updated on Thu, 02/26/2015 - 2:11pm.
  1. Who was Matthew Debono?
    Matthew Debono was a freshman at Indiana’s Wabash College when he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. He regretted not being able to complete his college education so he and his brother conceived of a scholarship to help students similarly challenged by bone marrow failure disease. Unfortunately, Matthew died of complications from his disease 18 months after diagnosis.

    The Debono family immediately established the Matthew Debono Memorial Scholarship Fund and over 25 years, 35 students received awards. In 2011, the Debono family decided to re-establish their scholarship fund with AA&MDSIF so that it could make an even larger impact. An additional 47 scholarships were awarded from 2012-2014 bringing the total number of Debono scholarships to 82.

  2. Who is eligible to apply for a scholarship?
    • Applicants must have been diagnosed with aplastic anemia, MDS or PNH. A physician’s letter stating the applicant’s diagnosis will be required.
    • Applicants do not have to be undergoing current treatment and may have had a bone marrow transplant.
    • Applicants must be a US resident age 35 and under.
    • Applicants must be high school seniors or graduates who plan to enroll, or students who are already enrolled, in a full-time or part-time (minimum six credits) undergraduate or graduate course of study at an accredited two or four-year college, university, vocational-technical school, or grad school.
    • Awards are granted without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender or national origin.

  3. How do I apply for a Debono Scholarship?
    Interested students must submit their online application and attachments through our website. You will be able to access the Matthew Debono scholarship application and guidelines on or around March 1. March is the only time applications will be accepted during the year. Creation of a user name and password are required to access the online application.  Attachments include an official transcript(s), a reference, a physician’s letter, and a Student Aid Report (SAR) with Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount. Cost of attendance information (may attach room and board invoice) and completion of two essays is also required as part of the application. Completed applications are due by March 31st of each year.

  4. When is the application deadline?
    Applications are accepted once a year between March 1 and March 31 with a March 31, 2015 deadline (11:59 pm eastern time).

  5. How many scholarship cycles do you have per year and for what period does an award cover?
    There is only one scholarship cycle per year. Awards for each year cover one year - the fall semester of the current year and the spring semester of the following year. For example, this year’s awards will cover fall 2015 – spring 2016.

  6. If I have received a scholarship award in the past, am I eligible to apply/receive another scholarship?
    Yes, at this time, there is no limitation on the number of scholarship awards one can receive as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

  7. I am attending school in a foreign country. Am I eligible to apply?
    No, applicants must attend an educational institution in the United States to be eligible to apply. Payments are made in US dollars only.

  8. Do I need to be a United States citizen to apply for a scholarship?
    No, but you must maintain a valid US mailing address where correspondence and a check can be sent – an address which allows you to respond to correspondence from us in a timely manner. Scholarship checks will not be sent to a foreign address.

  9. How large are the scholarship awards and how many are there?
    Scholarships range from $1000 to $2000 per student. In 2014, we awarded 14 scholarships and had over 50 applications.

  10. What criteria do you use to evaluate my application?
    Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of:
    • Academic record/honors
    • Essays
    • Financial Need Based on Cost of Attendance and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Amount
    • Application Quality (neatness, completeness, clarity, following directions)
    • Demonstrated leadership
    • Participation in school and community activities
    • Work experience
    • Outside reference
    • Meeting eligibility requirements (see question 2)

  11. What changes have been made from the 2014 application process?
    • The deadline for receipt of applications is March 31, 11:59 pm (eastern time). This is when the website portal will no longer accept applications.
    • Each year, the essay questions change for previous applicants.
    • If you have applied in a previous year, you may now attach to the application the same physician’s letter showing your diagnosis as you used in a previous year. You do not need to obtain a new letter.
    • To substantiate the cost information you place on your application, you will be asked to provide us with a link to your school’s web page which lists those costs or a copy of the last tuition/room and board invoice. You do not need to provide receipts/proof of cost for smaller items such as books.

  12. How do I submit my application?
    Students will complete an online application and submit attachments through our AA&MDSIF web site. You will need to establish a user name and password, even if you applied for a scholarship last year. Interested students must submit their application and supporting documentation by March 31 of each year.  The new online application allows you to attach the appropriate documents to each section as you proceed. If a reference, physician, or school official wishes to attach a document to your application, they have the option to do so through the web site under the Submit A Supplementary Document section.

    It is the student’s responsibility to make sure references and physician’s letters are submitted by the application deadline. Since neatness and submission of a complete application are part of the scoring rubric used by the scholarship committee, applicants should be sure to closely follow the directions found in the application and this FAQ section. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated.

    Applicants will receive an email acknowledging receipt of their application. If acknowledgement is not received, please contact Mike Breuer. All information received is considered confidential and is reviewed only by the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AA&MDSIF).

    The student is responsible for submitting all materials to the AA&MDSIF. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated. The application becomes complete and valid when all of the following materials have been received:
    • Signed/initialed student application with school cost data and cost corroboration through either the school’s web page listing tuition costs or your last tuition/room and board invoice - both applicant and parent must initial if applicant is a dependent
    • Current complete official high school or college transcript or transcripts if multiple schools; high school transcript not required if a semester or more of college has been completed; if in high school, grading scale required with transcript
    • Physician's letter
    • Essays
    • Reference
    • Student Aid Report with EFC amount

  13. Which essays should I complete?
    First-time applicants are responsible for completing a different set of essay questions than those who are previous Harry Carson or Debono Scholarship applicants or recipients. These essays are clearly marked on the application. We ask that first-time applicants tell us their story through submission of a “Story of Hope”. These are personal stories of the applicant’s journey with bone marrow failure disease meant to support and inspire others.

    Each applicant must answer two essay questions.

  14. What is the EFC Amount?
    The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of your financial need and is calculated according to a formula established by law. The information you report on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to calculate your EFC. Your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

    In order to evaluate your financial need, AA&MDSIF subtracts the EFC number and the amount you receive from other scholarships from the cost of attendance information you provide. Everyone applying for a Matthew Debono scholarship is required to complete a FAFSA and submit a Student Aid Report (SAR) with the EFC amount to AA&MDSIF along with your application.

  15. Am I required to provide an official transcript with my application?
    Yes, we now require an official college or high school transcript be sent with the application. Unofficial transcripts will no longer be accepted.

  16. Am I required to include my high school transcript?
    High school seniors and students who have completed less than one full quarter or semester of post-secondary education must include their official high school transcript of grades. Because high school grading systems can vary, a clear explanation of the school’s grading scale must also be submitted with the application.

    As long as they have completed at least one full quarter/semester or more, current college or post-secondary students are not required to provide their high school information. Students currently or previously enrolled in college or vocational-technical school must instead include all official college or vo-tech transcripts from each school attended.

  17. Who has to sign the scholarship application?
    All scholarship applications must be initialed by the applicant to be considered complete. If the applicant is listed as a dependent on their parent’s income taxes, one PARENT and the APPLICANT must initial the application before submission.
  18. May I include costs for coursework taken over the summer on my application? 
    Costs for summer coursework or internships should not be included in the total school costs requested on the application. Please provide only your costs for the spring and fall semester, or if on a quarterly system, the costs for each quarter.

  19. When will I be notified whether I’ve received a scholarship?
    Applicants will be notified of a scholarship decision by May 30th. Students must accept or reject their scholarships by the assigned deadline after receiving notification of the award. Recipients are selected from a pool of eligible applicants by the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. All decisions are final.

  20. If I receive a scholarship, where and when are the checks sent?
    Checks are sent directly to the recipient’s home address, but are made out to the educational institution. The student is responsible for delivering the check directly to the appropriate department at their school, usually the Bursar’s Office or Office of Financial Aid. Checks will be sent during the first week of August.

  21. What are my responsibilities as a scholarship recipient?
    Recipients are required to notify the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation of any changes in address, school enrollment, or other relevant information that affects the award. Those receiving scholarship awards should be willing to attend regional events associated with the Foundation and interact with the media. You will be asked to distribute a press release and organizational literature to physician’s offices. Submission of your application grants AA&MDSIF permission to publish and promote your story, and use your name and photograph in association with this scholarship fund. You may ask to keep your participation confidential by a written request (letter or email) that accompanies your application.

    Most of all, we want you to focus on academic success!

  22. Who do I contact if I have a question?
    Questions regarding the Matthew Debono Memorial Scholarship Program should be sent to:
    Michael Breuer
    Phone: (301) 279-7202, x111
    Email: breuer@aamds.org

    Please note: The Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation reserves the right to review the conditions and procedures of this scholarship program and to make changes at any time including termination of the program.

Having cancer is a life changing event in an adult. Imagine if you are a child, teen or young adult and you are diagnosed with cancer. Things can seem even scarier, and for a child it can make the future seem bleak. It’s hard to even think about going to high school while on different treatments. For many the financial hardships cancer brings to their families robs cancer patients’ dreams of going to college. There’s a good chance academics were put on hold while fighting this horrible disease most cancer patients don’t have the grades for many scholarships. There is hope. There are many funds and foundations that give scholarships to people who are currently fighting cancer or have fought cancer in the past. The following is a list of 10 great scholarships given to cancer survivors. 

1. The Caner Suviors Fund (http://www.cancersurvivorsfund.org/ScholarshipEligibilityRequirements.htm)

The Cancer Survivors fund offers a scholarship that is available to anyone who has had cancer or is currently diagnosed with cancer. You do not have to currently be under treatment for cancer to apply for this scholarship. Anyone applying for this scholarship will need a few things. You will need a letter from your attending physician explaining your medical history and cancer diagnosis.  Also you will need a letter from two teachers explaining why you deserve this award. Plus you will have to write a short essay about how cancer has affected your educational and career goal. Finally if you do receive this scholarship you are expected to do volunteer work related to cancer.


2. Ronald McDonald House Charities (http://www.rmhc.org/rmhc-us-scholarships)

Ronald Mcdonald House Charities has given to so many people and done a lot of good over the years. It’s a good chance if you fought cancer has a child they helped your family in some way. Say what you want about the McDonald Corporation, but Ronald McDonald House Charities really does a lot of good by keeping families together when children face major health issues. Now when cancer survivors who are looking for college scholarships you can also turn to Ronald McDonald House Charities again. Every year they give away several different scholarships with different requirements.


3. The Nicki Leach Foundation (http://www.nickileach.org/)

Nicki Leach may have spent a very short 19 years on this earth, but since her passing she’s giving back in so many ways. While fighting cancer Nicki lost the ability to communicate so she started to take pictures of what she found beautiful in life. Her photography now hangs in several museums and graces greeting cards. Now a scholarship is given in her name. Her family started a foundation, The Nicki Leach Foundation and they offer assistance to young people with cancer from the ages of 17 – 25. All you need to do for your application is explain what will you do with their gift (money) and explain how cancer has changed your life. 


Cancer Scholarship

4. The Ryan Mullaly Second Chance Fund (http://www.ryans2dchancefund.org)

The Ryan Mullaly Second Chance Fund is a very unique scholarship. It’s a scholarship for people fighting lymphoma that haven’t done so well in school because of their cancer fight. The scholarship was set up in Ryan Mullaly’s memory who passes away from lymphoma. This fund rewards children who have been diagnosed with any from lymphoma from the ages of 13 through high school graduation with scholarships equaling $1000. Also you must have undergone treatment while in high school and it had to have affected how you did academically in high school. You will also need a letter from you oncologist to apply for this scholarship. 


5. BMCF (http://www.bmcf.net/apply.htm)

Brenda Mehling was a young bright woman who was taken away from this world in her twenties from breast cancer. While fighting cancer she noticed that the health care system wasn’t equipped to meet cancer patients day to day struggles so she set up a fund to help young people in need. To apply for this all you need to be is a young person dealing with cancer.


6. The Patient Advocate Foundation (http://www.patientadvocate.org/help.php?p=69)

Since 2000 The Patient Advocate Foundation have been awarding young adults who are currently battling cancer or have cancer scholarships so they can meet their educational goals. The only requirements for this scholarship are that applicants be under 25 and that in the past five years they have been treated or diagnosed with cancer. Then applicants must write a 1000 word essay on how cancer affected their life.


7. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (http://www.curethekids.org/survivors/education/scholarships/)

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s goal is to cure all brain tumors in children. Which is quite a goal. They also support survivors of pediatric brain tumors. In the past they have awarded 1000 scholarships and their goal is to award 1000 more. The requirements for this scholarship are that you were diagnosed before the age of 19 with tumors of the brain or spinal cord.


8. Cancer for College (http://www.cancerforcollege.org/)

Since 1994 Cancer for College has been handing out scholarships to children affected by cancer. At one point in time everyone who apply for a scholarship got something, so Cancer for College is the real deal. They are really looking to help young people affected by cancer. But the demand for scholarships has increased and they are no longer able to award everyone who applies. They do help as many people as they can with scholarships ranging from $250 to $4000. The requirements for this scholarship are that you either be a cancer survivor or amputee. Residents of southern California are considered before anyone else for this scholarship. One of the biggest contributors to this foundation is comedian Will Farrel. All funds from his branded sun screen go to this charity.


9. National Collegiate Cancer Foundation (http://www.collegiatecancer.org/scholarships.html)

The National Collegiate Cancer foundation is a great scholarship to apply for. The foundation awards 18 – 35 year old current or former cancer patients with $1000 scholarships. You can apply every year even if you have won a scholarship previously. Each application is judged on specific criteria like a quality essay, financial need, the will to win, the overall story of cancer survivorship, the quality of recommendations, and having a commitment to education.


10. National Grace Foundation (http://www.graceamerica.org/isabelhelenfarnumscholarship.html)

The National Grace Foundation yearly awards the Isbel Helen Farnum Scholarship. They raise money for the scholarship yearly and their goal this year is to give away $10,000 in scholarships. National Grace Foundation also offers other financial aid assistance needed for former cancer patients to move on with their education by offering free financial counseling.


Other scholarships worth checking out:


Jeff Apodaca Celbration of life (http://hospitals.unm.edu/giving/apodaca.shtml)

Hawaii Children’s Cancer Fund (http://hccf.org/)

Legacy Of Hope (http://www.stmfoundation.org/)

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (http://ulmanfund.org/)

The SAM Fund (http://www.thesamfund.org/)

River of life (http://andreriveroflife.org/)

Cameron Siemers Foundation of Hope (http://www.cameronsiemers.org/)

Special Love (http://www.specialove.org/)

The Susan Fund (http://thesusanfund.org/)

The Ashley Foundation Fund (http://www.theashleyfoundation.org/scholarship.html)

CHOP scholarship


American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/myacs/california/programsandservices/young-cancer-survivor-scholarship-program)

Stupid Cancer (http://stupidcancer.org/directories/money.shtml)

Wipe Out Kids Cancer (http://www.wokc.org/)

Friends of Scott (http://www.friendsofscott.org/scholarship.aspx)

The National Children’s Cancer Society (http://beyondthecure.org/scholarships)

AAMDS International (http://www.aamds.org/)

Candlelighters Scholarship (http://www.4kidswithcancer.org/section.cfm?wSectionID=4660)

Lance Armstrong Foundation (Lance Armstrong Foundation)

United Cancer Survivors of America (http://www.unitedcancersurvivorsofamerica.org/)

Camp Rainbow Gold (http://camprainbowgold.org/programs/college-scholarship-program/)

Childhood Cancer Canada (http://childhoodcancer.ca/get-help/survivor-scholarship-program)

The Mesothelioma Group (http://www.mesotheliomagroup.com/scholarships/)

The Simon Cancer Foundation (http://www.thescf.org/Scholarships.html)

MD Anderson Cancer Center (http://www.mdanderson.org/how-you-can-help/volunteer/cap-scholarship-program/index.html)

Friends of Kids with Cancer (https://www.friendsofkids.com/scholarship-application.html)

Dear Jack Foundation (http://www.dearjackfoundation.com/announcing-the-dear-jack-foundation-scholarship/)

MaryEllen Locher Foundation (http://www.melfoundation.org/#/scholarships)

HMC Foundation (http://www.hcmfoundation.org/scholarship.html)

Survivor Vision (http://www.survivorvision.org/site/epage/100862_923.htm)

Dana-Faber Cancer Foundation (http://www.dana-farber.org/Adult-Care/Treatment-and-Support/Patient-and-Family-Support/Young-Adult-Program.aspx)

The Pink Rose Foundation (http://www.pinkrose.org/scholarship.html)

United Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.ubcf.info/)

Life Happens (http://www.lifehappens.org/)

Jackie Spellman Foundation (http://www.jackiespellmanbenefit.org/)

Susan G Komen Foundation (http://ww5.komen.org/)

The Caring Institute (http://www.caring.org/)

Miles of Hope (http://milesofhope.org/funds/)

Alex Dinkle Foundation (http://www.alexdinkelfoundation.org/about/scholarship/)

Friends of Karen (http://www.friendsofkaren.org/resources)


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