For Spouses – Benefits
Military spouses are eligible for several benefits that offer aid in pursuing a postsecondary degree and advancing career goals. The programs, grants and scholarships listed below will help pay for a college degree or a vocational training certificate of your choice.
Military services education assistance programs
Each branch of the military offers education assistance programs for their service members and dependents. Here are some examples:
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grants: The CGMA Supplemental Education Grant Program offers financial assistance to service members and eligible family members by reimbursing certain costs associated with seeking a college degree, a vocational and technical training certificate, or a General Equivalency Diploma, not covered by Coast Guard Tuition Assistance or similar programs.
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program: The NMCRS Education Assistance Program offers interest-free loans and grants ranging from $500 to $3,000 per academic year to spouses of active-duty and retired service members for undergraduate programs at an accredited two- or four-year institution.
- Army Emergency Relief Spouse Education Assistance Program: The Army’s Spouse Education Assistance Program is a need-based scholarship program that assists Army spouses in obtaining their first undergraduate degree. They may receive assistance for up to four academic years of full-time study or eight academic years of part-time study if they meet the eligibility criteria.
There are plenty of scholarships and grants available to military spouses awarded by nonprofit and federal agencies, such as:
- My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program, or MyCAA: MyCAA is an initiative of the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, or SECO, program that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or associate degree in a portable career field and occupation.
- ThanksUSA Special Military Spouse Scholarships: The Purdue University Global/ThanksUSA Scholarship awards a full tuition scholarship for an eligible military spouse for an online undergraduate degree program at Purdue University Global. The Linda J. Romeo/ThanksUSA scholarship grants $4,000 to a female military spouse residing in the Washington, D.C., area attending Northern Virginia Community College.
- National Association for Uniformed Services Scholarships: NAUS awards eight $2,000 scholarships each year to a member of NAUS or an eligible dependent pursuing an undergraduate degree or certificate program from an accredited institution.
- Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program: Sponsored by the National Military Family Association, this program grants scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 to spouses of active duty, retired and reserve/Guard members to pursue post-secondary or graduate degrees and professional training programs.
Veterans Affairs programs
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers programs that help cover the cost of tuition not only for service members and veterans, but also for their dependents, such as:
- The GI Bill®: service members may transfer all 36 months or the portion of unused Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits to a spouse or child as long as the request is completed while serving as an active member of the military.
- The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship: a grant available for children and spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
- The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program: education aid to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or dependents of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
Other financial aid
- Federal student aid: Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid to explore different possibilities of financial aid.
- State aid: Many states are ready to help with merit and need-based grants, loans and scholarships.
- Private scholarships: You can find funds for school from private and nonprofit organizations – typically need- or merit-based with a specific qualifier.
Military Spouse Preference program
- With the help of the Military Spouse Preference program, you could be eligible for certain preferences when applying for Department of Defense civilian jobs, including civil service careers overseas.
- Contact the human resources office at your duty station or visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to apply for the Priority Placement Program for military spouses.
Resources for transferring professional licenses
- The Defense-State Liaison Office, from the Department of Defense, has worked to streamline state licensing procedures to make it easier for military spouses to find a job. These streamlined procedures still require the military spouse to apply for a license, so there may be some delays and costs involved.
- Depending on your work, some occupations have established interstate compacts, which can help further reduce or eliminate the relicensing process, if your new state has approved the compact.
- If the process turns out to be lengthy or costly, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation. Your state's employment office can offer more details.