Editor’s note: This article was contributed by Sarah Landrum of Corporate Gray. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length. Find more at http://blog.corporategray.com.
A secondary education is expensive, there’s no question about it. Many decide against pursuing a college degree for this very reason. But even if you believe that you can’t afford to go to college, you shouldn’t write off the possibility.
Believe it or not, military spouses and family members can receive nearly as much help as active-duty service members.
Here’s a quick guide to the military education benefits that military families can take advantage of:
1. The Post-9/11 GI Bill
The GI Bill was modified after 9/11 to include some substantial benefits for military families. Not only does it strengthen the education benefits for military personnel, it also includes a provision that allows service members to share their benefits with immediate family members. There are some limitations, of course, but the benefit can be extremely valuable.
If the eligible service member has not used any benefits, or only a small portion of them, the rest of the benefits are transferable. For example, if 12 months of the GI Bill have been used, then the remaining 24 months are available to immediate family.
In addition, you can’t just transfer over benefits freely. Service members must have served in the military for at least six years, and if benefits are transferred and used, they are obligated to serve a term of at least four more years.
For more information, visit the official Post-9/11 GI Bill website.
2. Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts
The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program, also called MyCAA, awards up to $4,000 for military spouses who are pursuing an associate degree, license, certification or credential for employment.
There are a few limitations for the program, as well. The active duty service member of the spouse must meet rank requirements ― E1 to E5, W1 to W2 or O1 to O2 ― and the program of study must be completed within three years of the start date.
Still, this is an exceptional program for anyone with a spouse in the military wishing to pursue a portable career.
For information on the program you can call the hotline at 800-342-9647 or visit the official MyCAA website.
3. Dependents Education Assistance Program
Spouses of veterans are eligible to receive education and training benefits through the Dependents Education Assistance Program. Up to 45 months of benefits are offered, which can be used for any number of educational pursuits, including degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
As a military spouse, you may even be eligible for a correspondence course, along with remedial, deficiency and refresher courses, as long as the right requirements have been met.
It’s worth noting that this program is also eligible to surviving spouses and family members of service members who died during active duty. If you’d like more information, visit the official DEA financial program website.
4. Branch-Related Assistance
We can’t explore it in full ― there’s just too much information and too many programs to sort through ― but each military branch has a variety of financial assistance programs in place for military personnel and their families. Whether we’re talking about the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, there is assistance available. The best thing to do is to contact your branch’s local education assistance program for more information.
Keep in mind that each branch will have its own sets of rules, requirements and limitations.
5. Private Scholarships and Grants
As with civilian college students pursuing a higher education, military personnel and their families may also be eligible for private scholarships and grants. Often, these private financial assistance programs are offered by groups throughout the country who want to help. Provided you attend school and do well, you generally don’t have to pay back scholarships and grants ― they are simply free financial assistance.
There are scholarships and grants out there tailored specifically for military personnel and their families. One such program, the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship, offers benefits to surviving family members of veterans and service members who died during active duty. Keep in mind, that’s just one of thousands of available programs.
For more information, it’s best to see a financial aid adviser at your school.
6. State-Funded Benefits and Resources
Finally, there are a whole slew of state-funded benefits available for the families ― including children ― of veterans who are deceased, MIA, POW or disabled. Some states offer more help than others.
Keep the state benefits in mind, especially if you find you’re not eligible for some of the other programs listed above.