Skip to main content

SDSU to offer new scholarship for Chapter 35 students

South Dakota State University will have an extra $50,000 per year to help the children and spouses of certain military veterans pay for their education.

Heart of America Patriot Foundation logo

Half of the scholarship funding for Chapter 35 students is coming from the Heart of America Patriot Foundation, and matching funds are currently being raised by the South Dakota State University Foundation, SDSU Director for Veterans Affairs Russ Chavez said.

Starting this fall at SDSU, the new funding will be used for individuals who qualify under the Dependents' Educational Assistance Program under Chapter 35 of the GI Bill: dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans.

The Heart of America Patriot Foundation’s mission is to “Honor the veterans, educate their legacy.” It achieves the first part through the patriotic ceremony at the beginning of the Patriot Benefit, its primary fundraising activity on Patriots Day, Sept. 11. It achieves the second part by providing scholarship money to partner institutions who match its contributions and distribute the money to the dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans.

HOAPF supported numerous veteran-related organizations before changing its focus to supporting the dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans in 2021.

The financial impact has been growing ever since. HOAPF’s 2023 budget calls for it to distribute $1 million to 40 partner institutions, all of which will be matched and result in 800 scholarships.

Russ Chavez
SDSU Director for Veterans Affairs Russ Chavez

Chavez said Chapter 35 students who are enrolled full time at a college or university get a stipend of $1,401 every month from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but tuition and fees are not paid.

“HOAPF’s founder, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Alan Gorthy, saw that blind spot and wanted to help those students more with their tuition and fees, housing, meal plan, etc. They let us decide what to use in on, which is phenomenal,” Chavez said.

Chavez said anywhere from 22-30 students are using Dependents' Educational Assistance Program funding every semester at SDSU, and his office will decide how to divide up the HOAPF funding depending on financial need and whether the students who qualify are using other forms of assistance. He said the SDSU Foundation was instrumental in making the new scholarship happen, and a five-year agreement is in place for the funding.

Chavez said Gorthy reached out to him to get planning for the HOAPF scholarship started at SDSU, and the university was lucky to get on board while the organization is still in its early stages.

“He got ahold of me, and we made it happen,” Chavez said. “As far as I’m concerned, anytime we get money to the people who need it, veterans or those associated with veterans, it’s a big win.”



You may republish SDSU News Center articles for free, online or in print. Questions? Contact us at or 605-688-6161.