It’s very difficult to succeed in the modern world without a college degree, and the US government has graciously extended its hand to the spouses of active military personnel. While they’re defending American’s freedoms, their spouses may qualify for a host of benefits that will improve both of their lives once they return.
Who is Eligible?
The first thing to factor in is a service member’s pay grade. Each part of the military has its own system, and spouses of service members that are in the E-1 through E-5, W-1 and W-2, and O-1 and O-2 qualify for financial assistance. All higher pay grades will disqualify them from the MyCAA program.
Spouses that are within the military who are on Title 10 orders don’t qualify for assistance. Likewise, spouses who are legally separated from their partner don’t qualify for benefits. Anyone that’s married to a member of the Coast Guard can’t qualify for benefits, and those who can’t start and complete their courses while their military sponsor is on a Title 10 order won’t get financial help.
What Are the Benefits?
The military offers the following benefits to everyone regardless of whether they qualify for MyCAA:
- Career exploration
- Education and training
- Career readiness
- Career connections
Career exploration entails an overview of every occupation someone may want to find themselves in once they’ve finished their schooling. It’s also intended to help military spouses find out what they’re good at and what career options are best for their particular inclinations and skill set.
Education and training involves creating a plan of action that accounts for financial aid options, educational resources, credential and license information, and for the lucky spouses who qualify, this is the stage when they know that they’re getting MyCAA aid.
Career readiness teaches people how to fill out their resumes and get their foot in the door at their favored companies. It also helps them learn the best techniques for searching for jobs as well as how to plan a relocation. Counselors will also help them explore flex-work options if they require something less set-in-stone than a typical nine-to-five office job.
Career connections delves into how someone can build on existing relationships to secure long-term employment. This part of the program focuses primarily on leveraging the tools provided by governmental entities, but it does explore a few options within the private sector like CareerOneStop.com.
What Extra Benefits Does the MyCAA Program Bring to the Table?
MyCAA will provide $4,000 total for those working toward an Associate’s degree that lends itself to a portable career. Portable careers are fields that are likely to be hiring wherever military personnel are stationed and they include management, construction trades, education, financial services, human resources, and many more. Only $2,000 of the $4,000 allotted to each MyCAA beneficiary may be used in one year, although exceptions are made for those whose initial tuition is higher than that or those who require something that doesn’t fall into the standard parameters.
MyCAA will not pay anything toward courses that aren’t included in the spouse’s education and training plan or courses that they’ve already started. It will not pay for books, uniforms, computers, or any kind of electronics. It won’t cover deposits on future courses unless those courses are part of a block of study. It won’t cover non-academic or ungraded courses, and that includes internships, apprenticeships, or clinical supervision. It also won’t cover orientation programs since they’re considered non-academic.
MyCAA won’t cover courses that have been taken more than one time unless it receives a full refund from the school. It won’t cover car insurance or other transportation costs, nor will it cover childcare and housing. It won’t cover course extensions unless the spouse has been granted a hardship waiver, and it won’t cover private licenses.
To summarize, MyCAA’s main purpose is to cover tuition for classes that fall into approved categories, and while it may cover more or it might bend the rules in some instances, it only happens under exceptional circumstances. MyCAA is insufficient to pay for someone’s education by itself, but an extra debt-free $4,000 is a big help to military personnel and their loved ones.
The men and women in the service have made grave sacrifices for the sake of their country, and those who stand beside them deserve as much praise as the people in uniform. That’s even more true when they don a uniform themselves, and MyCAA is there to help ensure that wherever they are and whatever they decide to do, they’ll always be able to find work.