By Douglas Fehlen
Make Use of MyCAA
The sacrifices of our nation's Armed Forces personnel are widely reported on in the media. Far less understood are the challenges of their families, most notably spouses. Military obligations often require families to move every two or three years, meaning that spouses must also pick up and start over in new places. This can make it difficult for husbands and wives of service members to build careers, a challenge often exacerbated by considerable household responsibilities.
The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program is intended to help mitigate the effects of these circumstances. MyCAA provides individuals who are married to service members with up to $4,000 for career-enhancing education opportunities. The financial aid may be applied to programs that result in a field certificate, a professional license or an associate degree. MyCAA is designed to provide military spouses with greater access to education opportunities that can allow them to pursue portable career options.
Transfer G.I. Bill Education Benefits
Another possible source of support for military spouses comes courtesy of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The recently updated legislation includes a provision that allows military personnel not interested in postsecondary opportunities to transfer their education benefits to a spouse (or a dependent). Active service members are eligible if they have served six years or more and they are willing to sign on for an additional four years in the military.
Spouses may utilize education incentives outlined by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill as soon as service members transfer them. Benefits include up to 36 months of paid tuition for undergraduate programs, graduate school or vocational education. Full tuition is covered at public institutions with up to $17,500 being covered at private institutions. Students can also be reimbursed for some licensing, certification and college-entrance exams. Provisions written into the revision of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill offer flexibility that can allow military spouses to succeed academically while juggling home and work responsibilities.
Seek Out Non-Military Aid
In addition to monetary assistance provided by the military, there are plentiful other sources of education aid for spouses of service members. Many colleges and nonprofits offer generous grants to individuals who are married to Armed Forces personnel. These organizations are often observant of the fact that military spouses typically must balance school with household responsibilities while a spouse is away and may have to move frequently. Financial aid, then, is often provided for flexible education programs (such as those found online) that can be completed by students who are military spouses.
G.I. Jobs compiles a list of Military Friendly Schools, some of which provide military-specific financial aid packages. Included on the list are dozens of reputable online schools that are a good fit for military families, including Thomas Edison State College. Online options are often attractive because they allow individuals in military families to continue their studies in the event of a sudden move.
Benefits for military families extend far beyond the realm of education. Learn how a Washington State law is assisting veterans in the job market.