A challenge that military spouses face relates to career opportunities. Because military spouses travel frequently, moving from one duty station to another, when their husbands and wives serving in the military receives new orders, it can be challenging for them to get hired into permanent jobs that pay high wages. One way around this challenge is for military spouses to apply for government-funded tuition assistance, giving them the opportunity to gain skills employers seek.
Money for Military Spouses to Advance Their Education
To help pay for their college education, military husbands and wives can open Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) and start saving to pay for their college tuition. Through MyCAA military spouses can receive up to $4,000 in tuition assistance from the government. Although this will not cover the entire cost of a two-year degree, it can pay for college textbooks or a few college courses. To be eligible to participate in the program, applicants must be married to active duty military members at the enlisted ranks. Monies from the program are used to pay for associate degrees and college certificates and licensing examinations.
Additionally, if active duty service members do not anticipate using their Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition assistance, they can transfer the benefits to their spouse. Couples interested in taking this approach to pay for a spouse’s college education are encouraged to contact the nearest Veterans Affairs office. Active duty military members can also contact their supervisor or human resource manager to find out if they’re eligible to transfer their benefits to their spouse.
Another military dependents tuition assistance program spouses can take advantage of is the Survivors and Dependents Assistance (DEA) program. To be eligible to receive the program’s benefits, spouses must be the husband or wife of a military member who died or became totally disabled due to active duty military service. Spouses have up to 20 years to use the benefits after they are declared eligible to receive the benefits.
More Tuition Assistance Options for Military Spouses
Before enrolling in postsecondary programs, spouses should contact the nearest Veterans Affairs office and make sure that the programs they want to enroll in meet the DEA’s qualification guidelines. A good first step spouses can take to ensure programs they enroll in qualify to receive military tuition assistance is to ensure that the programs are offered by schools that are accredited by organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education.
In addition to the above tuition assistance programs, military spouses are encouraged to check with their civilian employers to see if they offer tuition assistance. Several top firms reimburse their employees’ tuition expenses after the employees earn a passing grade (e.g. 3.0). As a tip, in order to get courses approved for employer tuition assistance reimbursement, courses may have to be related to jobs spouses work. For example, spouses working as marketing managers may get advertising courses approved for reimbursement but not chemistry courses.
Even in good economies it can be tough for military spouses to receive the same respect from employers that civilian spouses receive. This may be due, in part, to the fact that employers realize military spouses may not work for their companies for more than two to three years, until their active duty spouses get transferred to new duty stations. By getting college degrees, certificates and diplomas from accredited postsecondary schools employers recognize and respect, military spouses can have an additional tool to use to demonstrate to employers how serious they are about their careers. This, in turn, may help military spouses to secure quality employment in career fields they can work at for years, despite their home address.