Military Spouse Education and Tuition Assistance Benefit Programs

If you're a military spouse with career aspirations, now is the time to explore military education and tuition assistance programs.

By U.S. News University Directory
Posted 2011

Military Spouse Tuition Assistance Programs
Military Spouse Tuition Assistance Programs

If you’re a military spouse, going back to school can lead to a new trade and allow you to earn a certificate or a degree you can take with you, no matter where you go. And to make paying for college easier, spouses of U.S. Armed Forces service members and veterans are often eligible for military education benefits. These tuition assistance programs can help you advance your education and improve your career prospects – whether you choose a brick-and-mortar college, online associate’s or bachelor’s degree program, or a professional training and certification program.

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If you’re a military spouse with aspirations to learn new skills, transition into a different field, or launch a new business venture, then now is the time to explore military education benefits – like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, MyCAA program and branch-specific support programs – that can help you make it happen.

Changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill Enable Transfer of Benefits to Spouses

Thanks to changes enacted in the GI Bill, it is now easier for military spouses to take advantage of military education benefits. The Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) program allows Armed Forces members enrolled in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program to transfer unused benefits to a spouse or other dependent. Eligibility criteria include six years or more of active and/or reserve duty, with an obligation to serve four more.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays full in-state tuition and fees for public institutions for eligible spouses. The maximum benefit is 36 months of benefits; any unused portion up to the maximum may be transferred, upon approval, to a spouse.

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A military spouse has the choice of using the financial aid immediately, at any time while the service member remains in the Armed Forces, or for up to 15 years after his or her separation from the service.

Benefits may be used for a variety of approved training and educational opportunities, including:

  • Graduate and undergraduate degrees at four-year universities and community colleges.
  • Vocational or technical training, such as mechanical certification, licensed practical nursing or professional hairdressing or cosmetology.
  • On-the-job or apprenticeship training, such as union plumber or electrician training.
  • Flight training.
  • Licensing and certification tests.
  • National testing fees, such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Dental Admissions Test (DAT).
  • Tutorial training.

The Yellow Ribbon Program for Spouses of Veterans

The Yellow Ribbon Program is similar to TEB, but offers financial aid to spouses of veterans, rather than active duty service members. It pays all in-state tuition and fees for public schools, or $17,500 per academic year toward tuition and fees for private schools.

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Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA)

The MyCAA program is sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD) to help military spouses learn skills that can lead to high demand, “portable” jobs. Teacher, web designer, home health care nurse, and dental hygienists are good examples of careers that may be pursued wherever a spouse travels with an active duty service member.

MyCAA provides up to $4,000 in tuition assistance for associate degrees, professional certificates and licensing programs. The annual cap is $2,000, but waivers are available for programs with costs above $2,000 per year, up to the maximum of $4,000.

To be eligible for MyCAA, you must:

  • Be the spouse of an active duty Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps junior service member or activated Reserve member in pay grades E1 – E5, W1 – W2, or O1 – O2.
  • Enroll in an education program with a concentration (General Studies or Liberal Arts are excluded).
  • Finish the program within three years from the date the first course begins.
  • Enroll in a school that is approved and accepted for the program.

MyCAA does not pay for books, supplies, transportation, parking, uniforms, application fees or child care. The program does provide career counseling and other support services.

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Pursuing advanced education with the help of MyCAA can mean personal satisfaction and enhanced job security, whether you move frequently or remain with the same base throughout your spouse’s duty.

Pursue Your Education with the Help of Military Spouse Education Benefits

As a military spouse, you face unique challenges. Pursuing your education can be more difficult when you relocate frequently and need to care for your family on your own. Plus, the cost of education continues to increase.

Fortunately, resources are available to make it easier for military spouses to pay for college. Explore the programs outlined here as the first step on a path toward a better job or new career. As a military spouse, you have earned this support and financial aid. Take advantage of these resources and learn new skills, earn a certification or pursue a degree.

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