Military Spouse Tuition Assistance
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.