Military Spouse Education BenefitsUpdated: December 23, 2022
The military, government, schools and private organizations offer many ways for military spouses to obtain an education.
These include financial assistance, school guidance, assessment tools, career exploration and more. Below we walk through different education benefits for military spouses.
Veterans Affairs Programs
Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship: The Fry Scholarship provides up to 36 months of education benefits to the surviving dependents of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
Post 9/11 GI Bill/Forever GI Bill: Service members who don’t 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 between six and 16 years of military service before electing to transfer the benefits are eligible for this program. Military members who transfer these benefits may need to agree to an additional four years of service. They may transfer benefits 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 a maximum of 36 or 45 months of education benefits, depending on when it was first accessed. You may use these benefits for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, correspondence courses and on-the-job training. Remedial, deficiency and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
Other Tuition Assistance and Help for Military Spouses
MyCAA (Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts) Member: MyCAA provides up to $4,000 (over two years) of financial assistance for military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or associate’s degree in a portable career field or occupation.
Military Discounts: Many Military Friendly Colleges offer military spouse discounts. Discounts vary, with some as high as 50% or more. Some schools offer varying discounts based on degree program and level. It’s important to understand your specific needs to find the school offering the best military discounts and meets all your other needs. When offered, schools often display these military discounts prominently on a specific military section of their website. If not, ask.
Military Spouse Scholarships and Grants: Scholarships vary greatly by school, and many third-party organizations offer these as well. Scholarship and grant categories include those for minorities, foreign-born spouses, community service and much more. There are hundreds of scholarships and grants for different criteria.
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.
Military Branch Specific Military Spouse Education Benefits
Each branch of the military offers education assistance programs for their service members and their dependents.
Air Force/Space Force
- AFAS Education Loan Program: The Air Force offers an interest-free loan of up to $1,000 to eligible Air Force dependents.
- General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program: These need-based grants range in value from $500-$4,000.
- Army Emergency Relief (AER) – Spouse Education Assistance Program (EAP): The Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship is a need-based program that assists Army spouses in obtaining their first undergraduate degree at an accredited college, university or trade school.
- 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- $3,000 per academic year to spouses of active-duty and retired service members who can demonstrate financial need.
- Navy-Marines Marine Corps Relief Society Loans & Scholarships: Education Assistance: See above.
Additional Resources and Help
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Program
Establish an account with MySECO, the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Program. SECO provides specialty career consultation services six days a week with nationally certified coaches who have master’s degrees. You also have 24/7 access to online education and career information, resources, tools and assessments. Through these, you can explore your interests, skills, passions and personality types to determine the best fit for education and career choices.
Installation Education Centers
Installation Education Centers have education counselors 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
Eligible spouses can receive education and career planning assistance through Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES). They also offer non-traditional ways to earn credits, including online and correspondence. For online access and to find a center near you, visit the DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) website.