While most educational financial aid for the military is focused on the service member themselves though Tuition Assistance, Tuition Assistance Top-Up and the GI Bill, there is a program just for service-members’ spouses. Eligible program participants can earn a license, certificate, certification or two-year associate degree in a variety of career fields and occupations considered by the program to be in high demand and in high growth fields. These career fields and occupations are in such demand that graduates of the program usually do not have trouble finding a job even after relocating (sometimes several times) to another post or base.
Participants can get up to $4,000 in tuition assistance in the form of a scholarship (without having to pay it back) and have up to three years to complete their chosen program. Because not all spouses are eligible, read on to find out if you qualify for the MyCAA program.
Two of the great things about the MyCAA program is the number of schools to choose from that accept the scholarship and the class venues available. Venues can vary from an on-campus classroom setting to taking a whole program online. The online option makes it easier for a military spouse to maintain a household and go to school too. All that is needed is a computer and Internet connection.
Below is a search tool spouses can use to find a school that is right for them. Currently there are around 1,340 different schools that accept the MyCAA scholarship. Use the tool below to see which schools and programs could be right for you.
While some employers may have an education program for their employees, most employers do not have any type of education program for employees’ spouses. However, years ago the military saw the value in not only supporting the post-secondary education of its service members, but also of their spouses too. Now, not only can spouses have a career of their own, but they also get greater sense of satisfaction knowing they too are helping support their family financially.
MyCAA is a workforce development program sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD) aimed at providing Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and select National Guard and Reserve spouses with an opportunity to get some post-secondary education so they can provide another stream of revenue and thus a better standard of living for their family. The program is aimed at spouses of lower-graded Enlisted, Warrant and Commissioned Officers on Title 10 orders who typically make less money at this stage of their career, but still have monetary requirements that would otherwise go unfunded without the second income. Some of these families have to resort to food-bank programs just to get by. For eligible spouses, the MyCAA program can be a boom to their family financially.
NOTE: Spouses of Coast Guard service members are not covered under the MyCAA program because the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security and not the DoD.
While the program covers tuition for the selected programs of study, many other associated expenses are not covered and are the responsibility of the enrolled spouse. Expenses falling under the not covered category include:
While there are some costs not paid for by the MyCAA program itself, many of these costs can be paid for through other scholarships and grants and not end up being paid out-of-pocket.
Besides paying for tuition, the program also includes helping spouses having completed the program find employment. This takes the form of the following:
This free service helps all spouses - eligible for the program or not - identify other potential sources of education financial assistance, along with resources to help pay for transportation, child care, supplies and equipment required for a program of study.
Once graduated from the program, this service helps spouses find employment with military-friendly employers.
NOTE: If you need assistance with any step(s) of the process, contact a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Coach at 1-800-342-9647.
Trying to get a post-secondary education or training as a military spouse is difficult at best. In many cases they are the sole parent much of the time with the service member either deployed or away much of the time at a required training course or school. And not only is finding the time to go to class difficult, but attending a brick and mortar school can incur additional costs with transportation and child-care.
However, many of the portable programs of study can be taken in their entirety online. Studying can be done when the kids are napping in the afternoon, before they get up in the morning or after they go to bed at night. Not only does this flexibility capitalize on available study time, but it does not add financial costs to an already cash-strapped family.
And online programs make it easy to continue in the MyCAA program if re-stationed while in the program. All that is required to continue in the program at a new location is a computer and Internet connection.
Besides the MyCAA program, there are many other resources available to spouses to assist them in their post-secondary education endeavor. Here are a few of the more useful ones that will help someone about to embark with online learning .
A short two-page overview of the MyCAA program.
Use this link to ensure you are properly enrolled in the DEERS program before trying to enroll in the MyCAA program.
Use these three things to get the most from your MyCAA program enrollment.
Another MyCAA fact sheet but geared specifically to Army spouses.
An additional source of spousal funding in the form of a scholarship.
An interactive search engine that identifies sources of education financial aid based on the inputted information.
While intended to help spouses of those serving in the U.S. Department of State, much of the information is applicable to military spouses too.
Besides the MyCAA program, there are many other scholarships that military spouses can apply for. The money could be used by spouses not qualifying for MyCAA or to advance their education after the MyCAA program.
A list of potential scholarships as listed in U.S. Veterans magazine.
A resource where potential students can go to find out more about associate degrees they can get online. Cross-check this information with the MyCAA approved course list to see if any match up.
Getting a degree from a college that is properly accredited is important to later getting hired. Learn more about accreditation and why it matters that you get an accreditation recognized by your chosen industry, if choosing the associate degree route.