September 9, 2015 – Are your spouse and/or children thinking of going back to school? That’s great! There is no reason to put it off any longer. Even with house payments, car payments, children’s doctor appointments, and all the other every day things that can pop up in your life to make your day harder there is no better time than the present to better yourself by continuing your education.
You may be wondering if the US Military will pay for your spouse to go to college and/or what kinds of programs are out there that may help. And there are quite a few! Spouses and family members actually make up 25 percent of those benefiting from VA’s education programs. In fact, you may find that you are eligible for more than one benefit or that one may be more suited to you and your specific education goals.
Below I have listed some information on some of the educational programs that the US Military has available to you and your spouse/family. Grab a pen and paper to take some notes, you may as well get some practice in, or go ahead and bookmark this page. Let’s get started!
Post 9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers higher education and training benefits to Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families who served after Sept. 10, 2001. It allows members of the military to transfer all or part of their education benefits to help cover the cost of education for their spouse or dependent children. Read more about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
There are two main GI Bill programs offering education assistance to survivors and dependents of Veterans:
1. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) is available for children and spouses of Servicemembers who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
2. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
Here is a list of the 2014 Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program Rates.
Also, there may be some changes coming to the GI Bill in the future that may have consequences for your family. You can read a little more about how GI Bill changes may affect military marriages.
MyCAA (My Career Advancement Account) is a program offered to military spouses of certain lower ranks, both officer and enlisted, including E1 to E5, W1 to W2 and O1 to O2. This program provides a total education of benefit of $4,000 with an annual cap of $2,000. Unfortunately, Coast Guard spouses are not covered by the MyCAA Spouse Employment congressional mandate: PL 110-417 Sec 582. This is due to the fact that the Coast Guard is a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), not the Department of Defense.
Most active duty service branches offer some form of a Spouse Tuition Assistance Program. While there are specifics and nuances in how each branch approaches these programs, all spouse tuition aid programs share the same mission: to provide financial aid to spouses in order to help them further their post-secondary educations. Read more on some factors to consider when choosing a school.
There may be some changes in education benefits in the future. For more information, you can read the January 29, 2015: Commission Releases Final Report of Military Compensation Programs press release. Skip to pages 161-172 of the PDF to read more on education benefits.
Coast Guard Foundation
The Coast Guard Foundation offers grants for active duty enlisted members and their spouses, as well as to children of active duty, retired, or deceased enlisted members. You can read more on the Coast Guard Foundation.
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Education grants and loans foster long-term financial well-being by helping Coast Guard families pursue their academic goals through post-secondary education. Eligible family members includes their spouse and children under 23 years of age who are unmarried, non-service members, and dependent upon the CGMA client for over half of their support.
Army Emergency Relief is a private, nonprofit organization that was created to help soldiers and their family members who experience financial emergencies. AER provides funds to help soldiers with immediate financial needs with rent, utilities, emergency travel, etc. AER also provides emergency funds to soldiers’ orphans and widows and offers undergraduate scholarships to spouses and children of both active and retired soldiers.
Air Force Aid Society Education Fund
The Air Force Aid Society Education Fund runs the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program. This program provides need-based grants to full-time college undergraduates who are dependent children of active duty Air Force members, retirees or deceased members. Spouses of active duty members and surviving spouses of deceased personnel are also eligible to compete for these grants. You can read more about the Air Force Aid Society Education Fund.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s Education Assistance Program
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s Education Assistance Program offers interest-free loans and grants for undergraduate/post-secondary education at an accredited 2- or 4-year education, technical or vocational institution in the United States. This financial assistance is available for children of active duty, retired or deceased Sailors and Marines; and for spouses of active duty and retired Sailors and Marines. You can read more about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s Education Assistance Program.
Military spouses may also be eligible for certain education benefits because of their status as a military dependent. This includes grant and scholarship programs that can fund the pursuit of a college education, certificate or licensure program. Read more on some of the scholarships and grants.
Here you can find a complete list and additional information on military friendly colleges and how they can provide benefits for your spouse.
How to Apply
Applying for your VA education benefits can be done in just a few steps:
1. Apply online today if you know which benefit you want to use.
2. Visit your nearest VA regional office to apply in person.
3. Consult with the VA Certifying Official – who is usually in the Registrar’s or Financial Aid office – at the school of your choice. This official has application forms and can help you apply.
4. Call 1-888-GI BILL-1 (888-442-4551) to have the application mailed to you.
After you apply, you can use the VA’s interactive map to find out how quickly your regional office is processing education claims.
Do educational benefits for you and your spouse sound like something you’d like to learn more about? Talk to a recruiter today!