Faced with managing their children’s educational needs through traditional home schooling, virtual learning or a hybrid program of virtual and in-class learning, families may be feeling the financial burden of added expenses. Army Emergency Relief is offering to relieve some of that financial burden through its Home School Assistance Program, providing up to $1,500 per family through a loan, grant or combination.

“This is a different time, one that Soldiers and families have never been faced with before,” Karen Bradshaw, Fort Hood’s Financial Readiness Branch manager, said. “Even with a hybrid program, there’s additional expenses they will be faced with at home, so this will allow them to get what they need and spread the cost out over a few months.”

The program is open to active duty personnel, retirees, survivors and eligible family members. Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers activated in support of COVID-19 efforts are also eligible.  

Bradshaw said families are in a predicament right now, not knowing what school will look like in a month, but said parents should decide now what is best for their children. Since a majority of the Central Texas school districts will be starting with a virtual learning platform and making a decision about the future on Sept. 7, parents need to prepare their home with computer access.

“Everything is kind of fluid right now, but people do know what they’ll be doing (in the short term),” Bradshaw said. “They will be home schooling, so this might be the time to go ahead and look at getting help for those expenses.”

The funds can be used to pay for technology, materials, curriculum, and other school-related supplies. The application, budget planning sheet and an electronic fund transfer authorization form will be sent to the family, who should returns the forms along with a list of required documentation they need, including a list of supplies they need.

After reviewing all the submitted paperwork, AER will determine, based on the family’s financial situation, if they will receive a loan, grant or combination of the two. Repayments for loan assistance will be spread out over 24 months and can be deferred for two months.

“We want to help them and not put them in a financial hardship,” Bradshaw said.

The Home School Assistance Program is retroactive back to March 1, so families can request financial assistance on supplies they have already purchased.

For assistance, families should email usarmy.hood.imcom-fmwrc.list.ACS-FRB@mail.mil or call 254-288-7292 or 254-287-8500. Bradshaw said due to the sensitive nature of sending personal, identifiable information, paperwork should be sent back securely.