News of Interest for Military Spouses
Great information sharing for Our Military Spouses courtesy of the Forget Student Loan Debt Website:
Education Benefits & Employment Benefits
While there are a slew of programs offering financial assistance to military spouses, Education Benefits programs and Employment Benefits programs are by far the most popular, and by far the most valuable.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education (college, career training, or some other form of higher education), then we’ve got great news – virtually no one has access to as many benefits or as much financial assistance as military spouses!
Between the Tuition Assistance Program, Military Spouse Scholarships, Military Spouse Grants and the MyCAA Program, you should be able to easily qualify for tens of thousands of dollars in financial assistance, dramatically reducing your out of pocket costs for going to school.
Whether you’re an Army wife or an Air Force husband, if you want to get a degree, it would be well worth your time to look into the following education benefits programs.
Military Spouse Education Benefits
Far and away the most valuable benefits available to military spouses are those created to help pay for higher education costs.
In fact, it should be relatively easy for you to earn a full, four-year college or university degree without having to spend much of your own money, but to do that, you’ll have to make some smart decisions.
Make sure to take advantage of each of the following education benefits packages in order to reduce your out of pocket costs!
Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferability
Perhaps the best part of the entire Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits package is that it can be transferred, either in part or in full, to immediate family members of military personnel, including spouses – both wives and husbands – as well as children.
But better yet, the rules for transferring Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members are simple, and straightforward (unlike many aspects of military life).
To qualify for a transfer, military personnel only have to satisfy two eligibility conditions:
- Servicemembers must have reached 6 years of total service
- Servicemembers must agree to serve for at least 4 years following the date their benefits are transferred
There’s even some flexibility in this program, as benefits can be transferred to multiple dependents, including just a spouse, one or more children, or to a spouse and some combination of children.
It may not sound like much, but the Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits package is the most comprehensive education benefits program ever offered by the Federal Government, and one that is virtually guaranteed to save you tens of thousands of dollars in higher education costs.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)
The MyCAA Program is like a mini-version of the Post 9/11 GI Bill package, but it directs benefits specifically to military wives and husbands.
MyCAA offers up to $4,000 in financial assistance for military spouses pursuing associates degree programs, credentials or licenses that “lead to employment in portable career fields”.
These programs must be offered by educational institutions who have a pre-established relationship with the MyCAA program, but virtually all of the well-known, accredited schools do participate.
The purpose of MyCAA is to incentivize military spouses to train for and find employment in career fields that they don’t have to abandon when the next inevitable base transfer comes through, so that moving causes less disruption to their income.
MyCAA benefits are an excellent opportunity for military spouses, since that $4,000 in financial aid for school should free up a lot of extra money for groceries, bills and other costs.
To get the details on how to use the MyCAA program, please view the official MyCAA Fact Sheet, here.
Military Spouse Scholarships & Grants
These used to be a bit of a secret, but when it comes to awareness of grants and scholarships for military spouses, that cat’s been out of the bag for some time now.
And even though some of these military spouse grants and scholarships are extremely competitive, there are so many of them available that the total value of scholarships and grants has been reported to be as high as $300,000,000!
With that much money on the table, it’s no wonder that some of the scholarships and grants end up going unclaimed each year, but this is a travesty, because that money deserves to be put to use.
Military Spouse Tuition Assistance
Most of the service branches provide some form of tuition assistance for military spouses, so you’ll have access to some benefits no matter which branch of the military your husband or wife serves in.
However, just like with everything else in life, some of the branches offer better benefits than others, with more funding, or easier eligibility guidelines.
Here’s a basic breakdown on what’s available from each branch:
Army Tuition Assistance for Military Spouses
The Army offers two military spouse tuition assistance programs, with the Overseas Spouse Education Assistance Program (OSEAP) providing up to 50% of tuition costs (capped at $500 per term or $2,500 per academic year), and the Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP) offering similar benefits to those who live stateside.
Air Force Tuition Assistance for Military Spouses
The Air Force’s military spouse tuition assistance program is called the George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) and it offers to pay for 50% of unmet tuition charges once the other readily available forms of financial aid (like grants, scholarships, etc.) have already been applied to education costs.
This program has a $1,500 limit per academic year for eligible military spouses.
Navy Tuition Assistance for Military Spouses
The Navy’s Spouse Tuition Aid Program (also abbreviated STAP) covers both Navy spouses and Marine Corps spouses, offering an interet-free loan for Navy and Marine spouses while they’re stationed overseas with their sponsors.
Loans can be used to pay up to 50% of tuition costs for either undergraduate or graduate programs, but these loans come with a cap of $3,000 per calendar year.
Keep in mind that these programs offer funding in addition to all the other education benefits packages provided to military spouses, and that access to Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (via family transfer) and MyCAA benefits means that most spouses will be able to get some substantial financial assistance once all is said and done.
Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
This is an excellent benefits package, but one that nobody want to qualify for.
The Survivor’s and Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) Program offers education benefits and training to dependents and spouses of veterans who have either died, been killed, gone missing, been captured or been permanently and totally disabled during active service in the Armed Forces.
And while the circumstances of qualification are terrible, the benefits themselves are substantial.
If you qualify for the full DEA benefits package, you’ll receive up to 45 months of education benefits, including funds to help pay for pursuing a degree or certificate program, an apprenticeship and/or on-the-job training.
State-Funded Education Benefits for Military Spouses
Not all states offer educational assistance to military spouses, but some do provide significant financial assistance, especially to spouses of disabled or deceased veterans.
A couple examples of the types of benefits offered by states include California providing tuition and fee waivers to qualifying spouses and dependents attending UC and Cal State schools, and Oregon offering a monthly stipend to eligible candidates.
Military Spouse Jobs Benefits
In addition to the excellent education benefits available to military spouses, there’s also an entire suite of programs created to help military wives and husbands find reliable, stable employment.
Here are just a few of the many programs created to help provide great jobs for military spouses.
Military Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO)
SECO programs are available online or in person, and were created to offer military spouses with guidance regarding educational opportunities and career development.
SECO services can be accessed via the Military OneSource SECO Career Center, where military spouses can receive free access to three major benefits programs:
- Comprehensive counseling services, focused on education, employment and finances
- The My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA Program), a workforce development program offering $4,000 in financial assistance to eligible military spouses
- The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, which is a community of more than 160 military friendly employers who’ve pledged to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable employment positions.
The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP)
The MSEP was formed to help military spouses tackle the problems they face in finding reliable employment opportunities.
Facing a 26% unemployed rate and a 25% wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts, 77% of unemployed military spouses want or need work, but have difficulty securing it due to frequent relocations.
The MSEP program serves as a targeted recruitment tool for companies and an employment solution for military spouses, providing Fortune 500 Plus companies with ALL military services, and military spouses with human resource managers, as well as training and assistance to help make them more competitive, “job ready” applicants.
The Military Spouse Preference Program (MSP)
Perhaps the most difficult task for military wives and husbands is being able to land good-paying, stable employment through all the moves and relocations required by service in the Armed Forces.
Fortunately, the Department of Defense takes military spouse employment seriously, and it created the Military Spouse Preference Program to help military spouses get hired to fill vacant DOD civilian positions.
The program helps military spouses secure positions throughout the world, as it’s coverage includes both state-side, as well as to all U.S. territories, possessions and overseas areas.
The Employment Readiness Program (ERP)
The Employment Readiness Program was created to offer job search assistance and job referral services for both Soldiers and their family members (spouses and dependents).
This program is run out of local Army Community Service (ACS) centers and provides services like teaching job search skills, reviewing resumes and cover letters and job interview preparation courses.
The Patriot Express Small Business Loans Program
The Patriot Express program was created to help small business that are 51% or more owned or controlled by veterans, active-duty servicemembers or military spouses secure affordable lines of credit.
The program offers loans of up to $500,000 to qualifying candidates, provides interest rate protection by capping the interest rate a small amount of the prime rate, and requires an extremely fast turnaround time for funding.
It’s a great program for anyone who qualifies for the benefit, but especially for those who qualify, but have credit problems or other financial issues that would prevent them from receiving an affordable loan on their own.
The Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Program
The Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program was created to offer affordable life insurance policies to military spouses.
Sevicemembers can enroll their family members in this program to receive extremely affordable life insurance coverage of between $10,000 and $100,000 per person.
While you do have to pay for the coverage, and it gets more expensive as your spouse ages, the program provides free insurance coverage for children up to the age of 18.
Military Spouse Benefits by Service Branch
In addition to all of the programs listed above, each service branch also provides a variety of benefits packages to the husbands and wives of their personnel.
Some of the best military wife benefits are found in the branch-specific programs, especially when it comes to scholarships and grants for military spouses.
To help you determine which benefits programs you qualify for, here are a handful of those available from each branch of the military.
Army Spouse Benefits
Army Spouse & Dependents Education Programs
SOCAD (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the Army)
Army Emergency Relief (AER) Programs
The Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP)
The Spouse Education Assistance Program (EAP)
James Holbrook Military Spouse Scholarship
Navy Spouse Benefits
Navy Spouse & Dependents Education Programs
SOCNAV (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the Navy)
The Navy Maine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)
Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)
Vice Admiral (VADM) E.P. Travers Scholarship & Loan Program
Air Force Spouse Benefits
Air Force Spouse & Dependents Education Programs
Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the Air Force
Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)
General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program
General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)
Marine Corps Spouse Benefits
Marine Corps Spouse & Dependents Education Programs
SOCMAR (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the Marine Corps)
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)
The Admiral Mike Boorda Seaman-to-Admiral Educational Assistance Program
The Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)
Vice Admiral (VADM) E.P. Travers Scholarship & Loan Program
Coast Guard Spouse Benefits
Coast Guard Spouse & Dependents Education Programs
SOCCOAST (Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the Coast Guard)
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)
The Coast Guard Foundation
Additional Education Assistance
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA)
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) provides that spouses of military personnel who move to Mississippi due to the servicemember spouse being posted for military duty can keep their former residency for tax purposes throughout the marriage. This exemption does not apply if the spouse is already a resident of Mississippi. The MSRRA is retroactive to January 1, 2009.
Mississippi Community Covenant
Information source regarding military support in Mississippi
My Army Benefits: State of Mississippi
Good source of information for all Service Spouses regarding benefits associated with military service and the State of Mississippi
Governor Bryant Signs Bill to Expedite Hiring of Veterans and Military Spouses
People with military training or spouses of active duty military may find it easier to obtain licenses and certifications for jobs thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Phil Bryant