Back to school for spouses
It’s that time of the year again. Lines at the Exchange are full of shoppers crossing notebooks, pencils, backpacks and new school clothes off of their lists. However, it’s not just children who return to classes at this time. Military members and spouses are also getting back to the books.
School may seem a daunting task when added to the stresses of military life. If you’re already facing PCS possibilities, deployment dread and the emotional rollercoaster of child-rearing, continued education may be at the very bottom of your to-do list. But it shouldn’t be.
The military makes an effort to guide spouses to success both in the form of career opportunities and educational development. There are many organizations that offer funding for spouses’ higher education.
Most well known is the Post-9/11 GI benefit program. Spouses and other dependents are able to use transferred GI Bill benefits that have not been used by their sponsor in order to pay tuition. Servicemembers must meet specific criteria to transfer their GI Bill benefits. This includes having at least six years of service under their belt and an obligation to serve at least four additional years.
However, some families may not meet the aforementioned criteria or choose to save these benefits for later use by their children. If so, there are a number of ways to finance degrees without dipping into G.I. Bill benefits. One such program is Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA). This program provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance for military spouses who are pursuing two-year degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields.
This is just one of many ways spouses can fund their higher education. State and government grants are regularly given to families with incomes below a specific level.
In addition to government assistance, private or organization-funded scholarships are an excellent way to finance your education. Military.com offers an extensive “Scholarship Finder” that can help spouses sort through the more than $300 million in scholarships and grants available for military families and veterans. Funding is at your fingertips.
Although overseas military bases are often usually not located in the vicinity of universities, the U.S. government has established partnerships with Central Texas College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of Maryland University College and the University of Oklahoma to offer college courses on installations.
If the schools at your current location do not offer a program that you are interested in, many schools offer degrees entirely online in any field you can imagine. Some colleges and universities offer reduced tuition rates for military-affiliated students.
There is nothing stopping you from achieving your educational dreams as a military spouse. Scholarships, training and opportunities abound for those who look for them.