It’s no secret that higher education is expensive.
Thankfully, the Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes the sacrifices military families make, including military spouses who constantly uproot their careers.
The DoD offers a grant of up to $4,000 to help spouses who need more education or training to land a job in a high growth, high demand industry once they’ve settled into a new duty station.
The grant is called My Career Advancement Account Program (MyCAA) and is offered in addition to other government financial aid that military spouse students may qualify for.
If you’re familiar with educational monetary aid, you may be wondering: “Can I use MyCAA and other sources of financial aid together?”
The quick answer: Yes, you can.
Read on to learn more.
Financial Aid is Available for Military Spouses
Over the years it's become easier for transient military spouses to earn degrees, licenses, and certifications due to online educational institutions. Long gone are the days where spouses had to quit school because of an upcoming Permanent Change of Station (PCS).
Fortunately, financial aid options are plentiful as well.
So, how do you start?
The first step is to decide on the training or additional education you’d like as this will determine the amount of aid you will need.
But if you are considering a career that requires four years of training, you may want to look into all financial aid opportunities available to you.
As a military spouse, your service member has earned educational benefits for your use. You'll want to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, in addition to completing your MyCAA application. The combination of these resources will help you offset education costs. Your education may be fully funded if you go with a less expensive option like certification programs, though.
What Does MyCAA Pay For?
MyCAA offers up to $4,000 in financial assistance to eligible military spouses seeking a certification, license, or associate’s degree in a high-demand, high-growth field. These programs are portable, which makes it easier to find a job when you get PCS orders a lot.
Who qualifies for MYCAA funding?
Spouse of a service member on active duty
Service member in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2
Spouse completes coursework while his or her military sponsor is on Title 10 military orders (as reported in DEERS)
Spouse of an active duty National Guard or Reservist is eligible when on Title 10 federal orders
What Do Pell Grants Pay For?
Pell Grants can be used to pay for tuition, fees, books, and supplies, plus living expenses like room and board. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2018-19 award year is $6,095.
Like MyCAA funding, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. The amount given depends on school costs, enrollment status, and financial need.
Who qualifies for Pell Grants?
Undergraduate and vocational students enrolled or accepted for enrollment in participating schools may apply
Must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Pell Grants are awarded usually only to students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree
Note: Students cannot receive federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.
Can You Use MyCAA and Pell Grants Together?
For military spouses, you can use both MyCAA and Pell Grants if your school accepts both. But MyCAA and Pell Grants together are just two ways to fund your education. There’s always more funding to apply for, especially if a higher-level degree is what you’re after.
Accredited schools, such as community colleges or universities, will accept financial aid in addition to MyCAA to cover your full tuition cost. But if you are looking for a certification, you may have to solely rely on MyCAA funding since most certification schools are privately held and do not allow students to use government financial aid.
What Other Funding Options Can I Use?
Additional training or schooling can add up, even with fantastic benefits like MyCAA and Pell Grant together. Applying for extra scholarships and grants can ease the financial burden if you’re going for multiple degrees.
Here are some other financial aid options:
This website reduces the amount of research you have to do to find personalized scholarships you’re eligible for without spending all day online. There is a monthly fee of $2.99 to access the database, which is well worth it if you score even one scholarship.
U.S. Department of Education
Each year, this department provides billions of dollars of educational loans and grants to qualifying students. For financial aid consideration, you’ll need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Find scholarships, internships, and more through this online database. The site boasts of 1.5 million scholarships for students to apply to for school funding.
Use All Your Benefits and Resources
Even if you can't get full funding through military programs, there’s still plenty of opportunities to earn scholarships and grants. With a little bit of time and effort, any scholarships you win will mean extra spending money once tuition and other educational needs are paid.
MyCAA, by far, is the easiest way for military spouses to fund and jumpstart a new career without going to a traditional school. MedCerts is one way to do it online. If you’re interested in a more traditional education, more time and funding will be necessary.
Take the time to talk with a career counselor or advisor to find the program that best suits you. They’ll guide you through each step of the process, including applying for FAFSA and other financial aid options.
Applying for scholarships and other financial aid programs takes time, but it’s worthwhile, especially if you can graduate school debt-free.