The University of Alabama has detailed a new scholarship program that will benefit Tuscaloosa-area first responders and their loved ones.

In a Thursday press release, a UA spokesperson said the university launched the Sworn Officer Scholarship "in recognition of the valiant efforts of sworn officers who provide duties on and adjacent to The University of Alabama campus."

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As previously reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread, the university first announced the creation of a scholarship for Tuscaloosa police officers and firefighters in June as part of a compromise between the university and the City of Tuscaloosa to allow the sale of alcohol inside UA's athletic venues.

The program is set to begin in Fall 2023, and in order to qualify for the scholarship, students must either be sworn officers with the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue, the Tuscaloosa County Sherif's Office, the Northport Police Department or Northport Fire Rescue. Children of first responders in those agencies will also be eligible to receive the assistance.

The scholarship will award full-time students $2,500 per academic year, with a maximum benefit of $10,000 over four years.

Students who are below full-time credit hours can still receive the scholarship at a comparable amount based on credit hours taken.

UA President Stuart Bell praised the scholarship in the release.

"An investment in public safety is an investment in our entire community," Bell said. "This scholarship program acknowledges the impact sworn officers have and shows our great appreciation for their dedication."

LaShonda Kemp, the City of Tuscaloosa's human resources officer, said the municipality is excited that the partnership that will benefit not only officers who're pursuing educational opportunities but their children as well.

"This partnership with the Capstone will go a long way toward making college affordable for the families of those who spend their days in service to others,” Kemp said.

Several local public safety leaders thanked the university for the creation of the scholarship in the release, including Northport Fire Rescue Chief Bart Marshall, Northport Police Chief Gerald Burton and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy.

"By providing the availability of scholarships to our sworn personnel, they are creating an additional avenue for higher education," Abernathy said. "This also creates a recruitment tool that can be a game-changer for our community.”

Check out more information from the University about the scholarship here.

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