Many spouses of U.S. military members face challenges, especially when it comes to their careers. Thankfully, the U.S. government provides the spouses of service members a range of benefits and resources. If you’re a military spouse who has been considering a career change or pursuing additional education or training, programs exist to help you achieve those goals.
Because many of these programs are paid for by the federal government, the funding level, application structure, and qualifications may change over time. As a result, it’s in your best interest to learn about as many of them as possible; you may need to access multiple funding sources to help pay for school.
In this article, we’ve outlined some of the most common education benefits available for military spouses.
Military service members who qualify for the GI Bill® can transfer the educational benefit to their spouses, which can mean up to 36 months of college tuition payments. Multiple allowances of GI Bill eligibility are possible, depending on a service member’s length of service. The current version of the GI Bill requires service members to have completed six years of service and commit to four additional years. The service member must request a Transfer of Education Benefits, after which their spouse can use the credits.
My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA)
A more specialized program available to military spouses at specific sets of income levels, MyCAA awards scholarships toward training in fields that are considered viable for someone who may be required to move from place to place frequently. Applicants with spouses in the E-1 to E-6, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-3 military pay grades can apply.
Qualified applicants will receive career guidance, a personality assessment, and assistance finding a program of study, along with up to $4,000 in tuition assistance. If a MyCAA recipient’s spouse is promoted above the eligible ranks, they are still considered eligible themselves as long as their training or education program has already been approved by a MyCAA administrator.
Additional benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs are available to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or as the result of a service-related condition or disability.
- The Fry Scholarship includes 36 months of assistance with tuition, housing, school supplies, and books for spouses and children of deceased service members.
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance helps pay for training, education, apprenticeships, or certifications for up to 36 months.
You can choose either the Fry Scholarship or DEA, not both.
Military branches also offer education benefits that service members or their spouses can use:
- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers children and spouses of service members up to $3,000 in tuition assistance and interest-free loans of up to $4,000.
- The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program offers grants between $500 and $1,000 as well as loan reimbursement and a loan program of their own.
- Army Emergency Relief solicits applications for tuition assistance from the spouses of service members annually, providing assistance for up to four years of academic study.
- The Air Force Aid Society offers up to $2,500 toward short-term programs that are designed to help applicants rapidly find employment.
Many other benefits are available to military spouses, including assistance with finding a career, federal job search and placement programs, help for spouses who need to transfer a professional license from state to state as they move, and even assistance applying for tax credits and other tax benefits. One popular source of information for programs like these is the Department of Defense’s Military OneSource website.
Military Spouse Support at CSU
Here at Columbia Southern University, our administrators, educators, and staff pride ourselves on our programs that address the needs and goals of military service members and their families. We understand the unique challenges faced by military families, and we offer extensive resources to help you start and complete your educational journey.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website.