As a military spouse, it can be difficult to care for your family and attempt to gain a higher education at the same time. While your spouse is overseas, you are left to care for your family. This can be a difficult proposition as many military spouses are forced to work a job in order to support their family financially, leaving little time or money to seek a higher education. Thankfully, there are scholarships for military spouses that make it easier for military spouses to reach their goal of a higher education that can be used to provide a better life for their family.
One excellent method you can use to find scholarships for military spouses is to research all of the military friendly colleges around the country to see what types of scholarships they offer. These schools generally offer different scholarships than other colleges and universities and have been known to cater to military spouses. Speaking to someone in the financial aid department at a military friendly school is a great place to start your search for military spouse scholarships.
Another place you will want to search when trying to find scholarships for military spouses is with the specific branch of the military that your spouse belongs. Each branch of the military has its own unique scholarship opportunities, especially for military spouses. Speaking to an administrative official that works for your spouse’s branch of the military should yield some good information when it comes to the different types of scholarships that branch of the military offers. This person may also be able to put you in contact with other military officials, educators, or nonprofit groups that offer military spouse scholarships.
If you do not plan on attending a military friendly college or university, you will still want to contact the school you will be enrolling at to see what type of scholarships they offer. Each college and university around the country has its own unique scholarships available to its students. Dropping by the financial aid office at the school you plan on attending will enable you to see if they offer any scholarships for military spouses. Some schools may have wealthy alumni that have made a donation to their alma mater to be used for college scholarships. Checking with your school’s financial aid department is a great way to see if your school offers any kind of scholarship for military spouses.
Nonprofit groups are another excellent source of scholarships for military spouses. There are many nonprofit groups out there that make it their group’s mission to assist military families. One way these groups give back to military families for their sacrifices is to offer college scholarships. A simple online search for nonprofit groups that work with military families in your area will provide you with a list of nonprofits to contact to see what types of scholarships they offer. Reading the newspaper and scanning online news stories about nonprofits that work with military families will also help you stay abreast of any new scholarship programs that may have been created.
For many years, only active duty military or reserves could get financial assistance for degrees or further education. That is simply not the case anymore. Now, military spouses can get some financial aid directly from the government using a program called Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA).
MyCAA allows for spouses of either active duty or reserve military members that are in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or National Guard. The Coast Guard is not covered under MyCAA. Spouses of members who were killed in action, missing in action, wounded, severely wounded or prisoners of war are also eligible as long as you are not legally separated.
The MyCAA program not only covers college tuition and fees but also a whole host of other continuing education options. These can include licenses, accreditation and certificates from certified schools and programs. It may also cover expensive examination fees such as the Bar or CPA exams. State certifications for teaching or medicine may also be paid by MyCAA.
The classes should be in a discipline that the military considers to be “portable career fields.” This means that the spouse would have no trouble landing a job using their education in areas where military members are often stationed. This clause is put into the program because active duty military so often need to pick up and move, sometimes at a moment’s notice.
There is an eligibility period for all spouses to file for assistance under the program. It is the date of Alert or Warning Order for Military Recall or Mobilization all the way through to activation and deployment until 180 days after de-mobilization.
The administrator of MyCAA differs between branches. Here is a breakdown:
- Army: Army Emergency Relief (Overseas)
- Army:Army Emergency Relief (Stateside)
- Navy: Navy Marine Corps Relief Society
- Air Force: Air Force Aid Society
- Marines: Navy Marine Corps Relief Society
Funds that are approved through MyCAA are paid directly to the school using electronic transfer. The school must be approved by the military in order to qualify.
If a military spouse meets all of these eligibility requirements, then they can apply for aid. The amount of aid will vary but will not exceed $6,000 over a lifetime. This is broken up into fiscal years, with a maximum aid of $2,000 per year, though there are some exceptions to this. For example, if the entire educational program lasts less than 1 fiscal year but costs more than $2,000 the agency at their discretion may pay the overage as long as it does not exceed the lifetime limit of $6,000. A special waiver form must be filled out and approved for this exception.
Though tuition and some fees are covered by MyCAA, other expenses related to education are not. This includes parking passes, transportation, application fees to get into the school or program, computer costs or graduation fees.
For more information and to begin the process of applying for the MyCAA assistance, visit https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/default.aspx.
Being a military spouse sometimes seems like the work of three people all rolled into one, it’s like a real military job. If your spouse is deployed, you’ll be doing the work of two parents while your partner is away. Even if you live in base housing, a military paycheck only stretches so far. You may be able to find a job to supplement your family’s income, but changing military schedules, surprise deployments and moving to another base every couple of years doesn’t make you an ideal employee. Stop looking for work in brick & mortar jobs and start looking online for your new income. You can make your own schedule and, when moving day comes, you take your job with you.
A virtual assistant can be called on to do anything from Tweeting on a regular basis to filling in spreadsheets. If there is a repetitive job online that takes very little training, someone somewhere will hire a virtual assistant to perform it. Virtual assistants find clients through job websites and online ads. You can work gigs that last 3 hours a week up to a full-time job. Work for one client or many each week. This can net you anywhere from pocket money to serious income potential.
If you’ve got grammar skills and a way with words, online writing can be a lucrative sideline. Do a search for “freelance writing” to find dozens of sites that hire writers. Look on writing job boards or military blog to find individual private clients. You may have to work for small change at first until you’ve built up a portfolio of clips and published pieces, but if you do your best work for every client you can rise up the ranks and earn a respectable income relatively quickly.
Selling items on auction through eBay has been a worthwhile income alternative for over a decade. Search the site to find out what sells and what doesn’t so you have a good idea of what to buy. Thousands of people search yard sales, thrift stores and library sales to find inventory for their auction businesses. You can buy a little bit of everything, but most people find it easier to specialize in one area of products. If you’ve got a passion for books or have collected vintage dresses all your life, begin with what you know. You can always branch off into other areas later on as your business grows.
It used to be that people with crafting skills made extra money by creating inventory and selling it at craft fairs. Today, you have a worldwide audience in Etsy. If you can make a specialty craft item, from Goth knitted kittens to the most exquisite baby clothing in the world, build a shop on Etsy and sell your items to people around the world. It takes dedication and time to promote your shop and find customers, as well as making and shipping the crafts themselves, but people are making a good living selling what they love to make.
Being a military spouse can often be difficult, especially when your husband or wife is being deployed to another country for months at a time or you have to relocate on short notice. Many military spouses have to deal the strains that come along with being away from their partners for long periods of time, including taking over all of the responsibilities at home. Others have to move to another location with their spouses. If you remain at home, you may have to take care of your children, pay bills and keep up with household cleaning and maintenance tasks without assistance from your spouse. If you have to move to another city, state or country, you and your family have to adjust to your new lives. To be able to deal with the deployment of a spouse, you need to have a support system, find ways to get everything accomplished and maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.
If you find yourself at home without your spouse or in a new location, make sure that you have a support system of friends, family members or acquaintances with whom you can talk about your thoughts or feelings or get advice. If you have recently moved because your spouse has been deployed to another city, state or country, talk to other military spouses about how they have dealt with the process of adjusting to living in a new place. If your spouse has been sent over to another country, talk to friends and family members about the emotions you are experiencing as a result of the deployment. If you are looking for someone who understands what you are going through, search online for chat rooms or message boards or join local groups where you can chat with other military spouses. Let others help you to adjust to the changes that go along with deployment because you could start to become stressed, overwhelmed or depressed as a result of your spouses’ absence or your separation from your friends and family members.
Find a way to get everything you need to get done in a manageable timeframe, either if you have to move or are left without your spouse due to deployment. Ask others, such as your children, friends or family members, to help you if you cannot get certain tasks, such as picking up your children, moving to a new location or fixing something, finished without help. Plan out your time so that you get tasks accomplished more efficiently but don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. Keep up work and household chores but also take time to relax, work out, do volunteer work or do other tasks that are important to you. Take classes or workshops or learn from others so that you can better accomplish certain tasks, such as budgeting. Use resources available through the military, such as Family Readiness programs. Also find ways, such as meditation or therapy, to deal with feelings that go along with moving or running a household alone.
Regularly communicate with your spouse and encourage your children to do so in order to keep a strong connection with your spouse. Write letters or emails and talk on the phone to your spouse and see him when he is able to get leave. Talk to your partner about what you are feeling, what is going on at home and what he is experiencing so that you both know what is occurring in each other’s lives. Don’t expect your spouse to give you all of the details of his job, as he may not want to talk about everything he has experienced, but make sure that you talk about the most important aspects of your lives. If you are stationed on a military base, don’t listen to gossip, especially related to your spouse. Trust in your spouse and your relationship unless he gives you a reason to believe he is lying to you about something important. Make sure that you and your spouse maintain a healthy relationship while being apart from each other so that you don’t have problems, especially communication issues, when he comes home from deployment or when you start to spend more time together after adjusting to relocation.
As a military spouse, you have an important role of providing support to a member of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard. You may have to deal with deployment more than once, so you need to learn how to deal with the demands and emotions that go along with deployment. You shouldn’t feel as if you have to deal with the change on your own because others , such as your family, friends or other military spouses, likely will be there to help you if you reach out to them. If you learn how to best manage a household and deal with feelings that go along with moving or living without your spouse for a certain period of time, you have the best chance of being able to live the lifestyle that goes along with being a husband or wife of military personnel.
Per the Pentagon, over one million armed forces members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks. Iraq and Afghanistan are the longest combat missions since Vietnam. As the war efforts are winding down, the country braces to support its valiant heroes and their families.
Military spouses shoulder a unique burden and honor while their marital partner is deployed or being reintegrated into civilian life. They may have the responsibility of rearing the children, paying the bills and attending to ailing parents all while feeling the constant gnawing pangs of loneliness. The nation has collectively grown more conscious of the complex needs of military spouses due to awareness campaigns championed by various non-profits and high level philanthropists, statesman, and politicians. There are many resources available.
New Military Spouses
All of the military branches sponsor new military spouse orientations to address their unique concerns and needs.
The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act
This bill was ratified on Veterans’ Day 2009. Congressional intent was to lessen the state income tax filing burden on military families. Military members are permitted to retain their state of legal residence for voting, tax, and car registration purposes irrespective of where they are stationed. Spouses, by extension, have a reciprocal right provided that the sole reason for leaving their home state was a result of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS).
Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
SGLI is a low cost life insurance benefit administered by the Veterans’ Administration. All uniform service members are immediately eligible and the default policy election is $400K. SGLI coverage now comes with a Traumatic Injury Protection rider which provides for an additional benefit in the event that a service member suffers traumatic injury. The benefit is on a graduated scale based on the extent/nature of the injury.
The military’s comprehensive health benefits plan is TriCare. Service members have three policy options with varying degrees of network flexibility. The United Concordia Dental Plan is offered to all active duty member dependents, enrollment is automatic. Care is provided to service members and their families onsite at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) on a priority basis.
There are a variety of services readily available on military Bases to service military members and their families. The Family Support Centers are usually service aggregators. Many different offices are frequently housed in the Family Support Centers to substantively address the complex needs of military families. Other base services include legal aid center, commissaries, and child care facilities.
The Department of Defense sponsors Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (CAA). CAA targets military spouses with a GED, high school diploma, or some secondary education who are interested in a portable career. Educations and training costs are defrayed up to $3,000 annually with the opportunity for a one-time renewal. Vist your local Family Support Center to find out about other educational grants.