Married to the Military: Scholarships for Military Spouses

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  • When you’re married to someone in the military, you sacrifice almost as much as your loved one in order to serve your country. It’s only right that you feel appreciated for what you give up for others. One of the important military family support services the government offers are military scholarship. You may have known that your spouse qualifies for these types of scholarships upon his/her return to college, but did you know that you may qualify even while your spouse is deployed? Review your options so you can get financial assistance for your higher education.

    G.I. Bill

    The G.I. Bill may provide you with the opportunity to get financial assistance for school, but only if your spouse doesn’t use all of the benefits for himself. If your spouse has served in the military for at least six years and has committed to at least four more years, you may be able to use his G.I. Bill benefits for your own education.

    As a member of a military serviceman’s immediate family, you may be able to use all of his benefits if he is not going to use them for himself, or you can split the benefits. For example, if your spouse has used 24 months’ worth of the benefits for his own education, the remaining 12 months’ worth can assist either you or your spouse — or any dependent children. The opposite is true: You can use the majority, and your spouse can use the minority.

    Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts

    Contact the MyCAA (Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts) program to see if you qualify for its financial assistance. You may unofficially hear the MyCAA program called Spouse Tuition Assistance.  Spouses can qualify for up to $2,000 per year — $4,000 total — in financial assistance for an associate degree, licensure or credential that will help them gain employment while their spouse is deployed.

    You must be able to complete this education during your spouse’s active duty years, and you have three years maximum after you apply for the aid to complete your education. Bachelor’s and graduate degrees do not qualify for this assistance. Coast Guard spouses do not qualify for the program.

    Spouse Education Assistance Program

    If your spouse is enrolled in the army and your family demonstrates a financial need, you may qualify for the Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP) provided by Army Emergency Relief. The benefits of this program extend to four-year undergraduate programs, and you must maintain a 2.0 GPA each year in order to continue receiving benefits.

    You can qualify whether or not your spouse is still on active duty, and even if you are a widow or widower, whether or not your loved one died while on active duty. To receive aid in time for the school year, you must apply no later than the beginning of May.

    Spouses of Injured Soldiers and Widows/Widowers

    If your spouse was injured or killed while on duty, there are many organizations that want to honor that sacrifice through educational financial aid for which you may qualify. The Folds of Honor Foundation provides for spouses of military servicemen and women killed or disabled while on active duty. The Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship is intended either for recipients of the Purple Heart or their spouses. Your school’s financial planning office will be able to assist you in applying for these scholarships, or you may contact the programs directly.

    Private Scholarships

    Many organizations and schools provide their own financial assistance to the immediate family members of veterans and active military servicemen and women. If you have your heart set on a particular institution, make an appointment to speak with the financial aid office as soon as possible and see if there are any scholarships available.

    If you have any questions or require assistance in applying for scholarships, contact the provider of the scholarship in which you’re interested, the Department of Defense, or a national military family support organization. Your spouse may also know who can help you get the financial assistance you’re seeking. While your loved one is away providing for your family — and even once he or she returns — you can prepare for the career of your dreams.

    About the Author: Marquita Needleman is a contributing writer and Marine Corps wife. She works at a small liberal arts college in the office of student financial planning.

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