The military, government, schools, and private organizations offer many ways for military spouses to obtain an education. These means include financial assistance, school guidance, assessment tools, career exploration, and much more. Here are many of the options available to military spouses seeking education benefits.
MyCAA (Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts) Member: This Tuition Assistance program provides up to $4,000 (over 2 years) of Financial Assistance for military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification, or Associate’s degree in a portable career field and occupation.
Military Discounts: Many Military Friendly Colleges offer military spouse discounts. Discounts can range from as low as single digit percentages to greater than 50% off. Some schools offer varying discounts based on degree program and degree seeking level. It’s important to understand your specific needs and find the school that offers the best military discounts as well as meeting all your other needs. Many times if a school offers these military discounts, it will be displayed prominently on a specific military section of their website, if not, ask.
Military Spouse Scholarships & Grants: Similar to Military Discounts this varies greatly by school, but there are also many third party organizations that offer these as well. Scholarship and Grant types include scholarships for minorities, foreign born spouses, community service, and much more. There are hundreds of scholarships and grants for different criteria.
Veterans Affairs Programs
Fry Scholarship: Provides education benefits to the surviving spouses and children of servicemembers who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001.
Post 9/11 GI Bill/Forever GI Bill: Servicemembers who choose not to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits or only use a portion of the benefits have the option of transferring them to a spouse or other dependent. Members with at least six years of military service before electing to transfer the benefits are eligible for this program. Once the benefits have been transferred, the military member must agree to an additional four years of service. Benefits may be given to one family member or split between multiple family members.
Survivor’s and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA): DEA provides education and training opportunities to eligible military spouses of certain veterans. The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, correspondence courses, and on-the-job training. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
Where to Start?
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Program
Establish an account with MySECO which is the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Program. SECO provides career counseling services six days a week through specialty consultations with master’s level subject matter experts. They also ensure military spouses have 24-7 access to online education and career information, resources, tools, and assessments. Using the tools and assessments, spouses can begin to explore their interests, skills, passions and personality types to determine the best fit for education and career choices.
Installation Education Centers
Installation Education Centers are available to military spouses and have education counselors there to assist with local education programs and opportunities, scholarships, military assistance programs, and selecting a school. Some schools provide classes right on the installation with additional support from their counselors.
Online Access to Education Centers
For online access and to find a center near you, visit the DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) website.
Military Branch Specific Military Spouse Education Benefits
Each branch of the military offers education assistance programs for their service members and dependents.
Air Force/Space Force
- Army Emergency Relief (AER) – Spouse Education Assistance Program (EAP): A need-based scholarship program that assists Army spouses in obtaining their first undergraduate degree.
- Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP)
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grants: CGMA education grant and loan programs offer financial assistance to military spouses.
- Navy-Marines Marine Corps Relief Society Loans & Scholarships: 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.
Other Financial Aid Options
Explore federal and state aid opportunities. Many states offer merit and need based grants and scholarships. Private scholarships from many schools and non-profit organizations are also available.