Are you aware the military has a Tuition Assistance program for military spouses? Though some refer to it as the Spouse Tuition Assistance Program, it is officially known as the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account, or MyCAA. This program began in 2010 and is run through the Department of Defense. It is designed to help military spouses have better opportunities for employment – something that can be tricky when dealing with frequent deployments and relocations.
MyCAA Eligibility & Benefits
Unfortunately, the MyCAA program is not open to every military spouse. It is only open to spouses of active duty servicemembers who are in the pay grades of E-1 through E-5, W-1 and W-2, and O-1 and O-2. Spouses of activated Guard members and reservists are also eligible for the program, provided the servicemember is on Title-10 orders and the spouse will finish their sponsored courses before the service member is off Title-10 orders.
Note: The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) extended eligibility to include Coast Guard spouses (this is a DoD program; the Coast Guard is covered under the Department of Homeland Security).
Here are some key points to the benefits:
- $4,000 Max benefit: MyCAA participants are eligible to receive up to $4,000 in Tuition Assistance benefits, with a maximum of $2,000 per fiscal year.
- Eligible Programs for Study: Previously, participants were eligible to receive Tuition Assistance benefits for associate degrees, certifications, and licensures. While the 2020 NDAA eliminated restrictions on which fields and career types are eligible, the benefits can not be applied to advanced degrees or the completion of a bachelor’s degree.
- Time Limits: There is a requirement that the student must complete their associate’s degree program within one year from the start date and certificate programs within 18 months. Extensions are possible and it is recommended to contact your MyCAA POC with questions.
What is covered: The MyCAA benefits can be used for tuition for education and training courses, and licensing fees, to include certifications for teachers, medical professionals, and other professional certifications; licensing exams; and degree programs.
What is not covered: MyCAA can no longer be used GED tests, English as a Second Language courses, Continuing Education Units through professional associations, or preparatory courses. The MyCAA program does not cover application or enrollment fees, lab fees, student ID cards, computer and technology fees, and many other associated education fees commonly found on college campuses. Reimbursement for courses is not offered, so please ensure you have your MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) document before enrolling in any courses.
A complete list of what is and is not covered can be found here.
Purpose of these limitations: There is a limited amount of funds to go around, so there have to be some limitations in place. The goal of the program is to help spouses of those servicemembers who likely need it the most. The program is limited to spouses of enlisted members through E-5, and junior officers. These are the folks who are generally younger and more likely to need a dual income household. The goal is to help make military spouses more employable. This is accomplished by limiting the TA benefits to programs that will result in an associate degree, certification, or an accredited license (there are many licenses which qualify; check with your education office for more information about available programs).
MyCAA Application Process
Eligible military spouses can begin the application process at the official MyCAA website. Spouses will need to create a profile, and their eligibility will be confirmed by linking their account with DEERS. Once eligibility has been established, the spouse can then create a Career and Training Plan, which will need approval. The student can then request their Financial Assistance document within 30 days of the first class date. Spouses are required to apply to the school and enroll in the courses on their own.
You can also contact your school academic advisor for assistance. If they are unfamiliar with the program or you need additional assistance, then try contacting a Career and Education Consultant at Military OneSource. They can be reached at 1-800-342-9647 and can help you find a career field that interests you, help you develop your Career and Training Plan, and help you navigate through the process.
Overall, this is a good plan to help spouses of junior military members get started on their degree plan or to obtain a license that can be used to help further their career.