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Are you a student planning to apply for student loans from The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)? Do you want more information regarding the eligibility and other rules? If yes, read on. This article has been written for you.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), set up in 1924, is the professional association of the United States Foreign Service. With 13,000 dues-paying members, AFSA represents 26,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees of the Department of State and Agency for International Development (AID), and also the minor groups in the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), U.S.

AFSA's principal missions are to enhance the effectiveness of the Foreign Service, to protect the professional interests of its members, to ensure the maintenance of high professional standards for both career diplomats and political appointees, and to promote understanding of the critical role of the Foreign Service in promoting America's national security and economic prosperity.

In 1918, the American Consular Association was founded to represent the interests of the members of the Consular Corps. In 1924, the Consular Corps was combined with the Diplomatic Corps to form the Foreign Service of the United States. In the same year, the Consular Association reconstituted itself as the American Foreign Service Association.

AFSA was founded "for the purpose of fostering an esprit de corps" among the members of the Foreign Service and has acted as a professional association for Foreign Service employees in the Department of State, later in the Agency for International Development and the United States Information Agency and more recently, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. Even in those initial years of work, the Association published the Foreign Service Journal, sponsored a wide range of speakers from all spheres of professional and diplomatic life, and commissioned studies on professional problems and future prospects of the Foreign Service.

Over the years AFSA has expanded its services to members, adding special insurance programs tailor-made to suit the purposes of the Foreign Service, a Scholarship Program for Foreign Service dependents, a speaker?s bureau and additional member benefits. In 1968, with the purchase of the property on the corner of 21st and E Streets, adjacent to the State Department, the Association moved its business offices to this address and opened the Foreign Service Club for AFSA members. AFSA is the sole agent of haggling for the Foreign Service employees of the Department of State, AID, FAS, CS, and IBB. In this labor/management relations capacity, AFSA negotiates with the managements of the principal foreign-affairs agencies on personnel policies and practices affecting members' working conditions. AFSA also acts as the representative of the members in formal grievance proceedings, office of security and inspector general investigations, and EEO cases, while providing them informal assistance in dealing with administrative problems.

Foreign Service retiree concerns are an integral part of the AFSA agenda. AFSA operates in close association with retired Foreign Service personnel on legislative issues related to retiree pensions and benefits. Retirees, individually and through independent retiree groups around the country, actively promote the Foreign Service and international engagement in their communities.

In its efforts to explain the Foreign Service's role and to build domestic constituencies to support its activities, AFSA operates a speaker?s bureau, which makes experienced diplomats available to speak to a wide range of groups all across the country. Under the aegis of the Elderhostel organization, AFSA members organize ongoing education programs on the Foreign Service. AFSA's corporate affiliates group, the International Associates, maintains a dialogue between the US international business community and the Foreign Service and foreign affairs agencies.

To be eligible for any AFSA Scholarship Program, the Students must show that they are dependent on the most recent IRS tax form by a US government Foreign Service employee (active, retired with pension, deceased or separated). This person must have worked or should be working at least a year abroad with a foreign affairs agency as defined by the Foreign Service Act of 1980. Applicants need to apply again every year for AFSA Financial Aid Scholarships while AFSA Merit Awards (Art and Academic) are one-time only prizes. AFSA Financial Aid Scholarships should be treated as supplementary aids to college aid and cannot reduce university scholarships or university grants. Award winners are required to write a thank you note to their scholarship donor or scholarship contact. Students may apply for all three AFSA scholarship programs, if eligibility requirements are met.

What follows is an elaborate discussion of the judging procedures and scoring process of the AFSA Merit Awards Competition. Only high school seniors of Foreign Service employees are eligible to apply for these one-time only awards. Winners receive $1500 awards and "Honorable Mention" winners receive $500 awards. From among the Academic Merit applicants, awards for "best essay" and "community service" are conferred to the most merited students. More or less 16 people participate as judges. Among them, 12 judges are for Academic Merit and 4 are for Art Merit. Members of the AFSA Committee on Education serve as judges of the Merit Awards along with others who are connected to the Foreign Service community. To help with continuity of scoring, each year 2/3 of the group consist of returning judges. With the Art Merit Competition, all judges have expertise in at least one of the four art categories: dance, musical arts, visual arts or creative writing. The Committee on Education each year reviews the weight/points assigned to each criteria.

The Academic Merit Awards are conferred at the beginning of May. The Financial Aid Awards are awarded in late August. The student must fill out the Academic Merit Application completely.

Needless to say, The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) is a great help and blessing for all those ambitious students who aspire to study more, but are dogged and thwarted by poverty or lack of adequate funds. Now that you know enough about this great organization, do not waste a second. If you meet the eligibility criteria mentioned above, then go ahead and apply for the loan or scholarship that suits your purposes.





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