Scholarships for Military Spouses: Tips and Tricks to Find, Apply for and Get the Best Scholarships for You

Scholarships and education assistance are available for military spouses seeking education. Read on to learn how to cash in on these opportunities.
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Military Spouse Scholarships
Table of Contents
  1. Why Scholarships are Best
  2. Tips to Find and Get the Best Scholarships
    1. Tip #1: Where to Look
    2. Tip #2: Where Else to Look (Hint: Outside the Military)
    3. Tip #3: Dedicate Time to Scholarship Applications
    4. Tip #4: Customize, Customize, Customize
    5. Tip #5: Apply for Federal Aid as Well
  3. Top Scholarships for Military Spouses
  4. Military Service Education Assistance Programs
    1. Army Emergency Relief
    2. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program
    3. Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grants
  5. Scholarship Programs
    1. Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Scholarship
    2. Delta Dental Grants
    3. Mike and Gail Donley Spouse Scholarships
    4. Association of the United States Army
    5. Hope for the Warriors
    6. National Military Family Association
    7. Navy Wives Clubs of America
    8. Pat Tillman Foundation
    9. My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program (MyCAA)
    10. FRA Education Foundation
    11. Thanks USA Military Spouse Scholarship
    12. Wings Over America
  6. Veterans Affairs Programs
    1. GI Bill
    2. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program
    3. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship
  7. Maximizing Your Education Benefits

The military lifestyle comes with unique sacrifices, especially for military spouses. There is no proper way to extend appreciation to military families; however, the military and other organizations offer scholarships to military spouses who decide to further or change their careers through higher education.

This article covers tips and tricks to find and get the best scholarships for military spouses.

Why Scholarships are Best

Unlike loans, scholarships never need to be paid back. If you do not apply for a scholarship you are eligible for, you are potentially leaving free money on the table.

Tips to Find and Get the Best Scholarships

With thousands of scholarships available throughout the year, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to look and how to decide what scholarships to apply to. 

Here are five tips to help you get started on your search for scholarship money.

Tip #1: Where to Look

If you have never looked for scholarship money, it can be surprising to learn just how many businesses, associations and organizations provide funds for those seeking higher education.

Some of the best-known examples are the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise, the Dell Scholars Program and the Burger King Scholars Program.

There are so many others. Military support organizations and nonprofit organizations host a variety of small- to medium-sized scholarships.

Some of the best places to search for scholarship opportunities include:

  • Nonprofit foundations
  • Military support organizations
  • Scholarship websites

Tip #2: Where Else to Look (Hint: Outside the Military)

Some surprising sources of scholarship money can be very near you. Local businesses may offer small- to medium-sized scholarships, available to local students.  

Whether they are military-specific or not, these smaller scholarships are typically under-applied for and would welcome additional, qualified applicants.

Tip #3: Dedicate Time to Scholarship Applications

Focus on your scholarship applications. Replace lower-priority tasks with time for this. Revise and work on your scholarship application.

Applying for scholarships could be one of the most lucrative part-time jobs you ever have. Find some time in your busy schedule to prioritize scholarship applications.

Tip #4: Customize, Customize, Customize

Every business, association and organization offering a scholarship has its requirements and set of qualities for those applying. 

So, it is important to:

  1. Research the organization offering the scholarship
  2. Review how your resume or essay can best fit the qualities they are looking for 
  3. Customize your essay to highlight the personal attributes that make you the best fit for the award.

Tip #5: Apply for Federal Aid as Well

Do not forget about FAFSA grants, loans and scholarships. Spend 30 minutes filling out the form to apply for financial aid for college or graduate school, and you may receive more than you expect!

Top Scholarships for Military Spouses

Here are some of the best scholarships and programs available to military spouses pursuing higher education. These include:

  • Military Service Education Assistance programs
  • Scholarship programs
  • Department of Veterans Affairs programs

Military Service Education Assistance Programs

Army Emergency Relief

Where: Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program

Who: Spouses pursuing an undergraduate degree or professional certification

What: Assistance for up to four academic years of full-time study or eight academic years of part-time study

When: Continuous

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program

Where: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

Who: Spouse or dependent child of an active-duty, retired or deceased sailor or Marine; must be enrolled or planning to enroll as a full-time student pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree at a post-secondary, technical or vocational institute 

What: Interest-free loans and grants averaging from $500 to $3,000 per academic year

When: Application available Jan. 1; must be postmarked no later than June 1

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grants

Where: Coast Guard Mutual Assistance

Who: Coast Guard spouses and dependent children

What: Loan fee reimbursement, Supplemental Education Grants (SEG), education loan program

When: Continuous

Scholarship Programs

Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Scholarship

Where: Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Scholarship

Who: Current and former members of the Air Force and Space Force, including active-duty, Air National Guard and Reservists, as well as their spouses, children and dependents

What: One scholarship is available

When: Application cycle runs from Dec. 1 until April 30

Delta Dental Grants

Where: Delta Dental Grants

Who: Eligible for military spouses, dependents and transitioning service members for the advancement of oral health and wellness

What: Five scholarships available at a value of $2,000 each

When: Application cycle runs from Dec. 1 until April 30

Mike and Gail Donley Spouse Scholarships

Where: Mike and Gail Donley Spouse Scholarships

Who: Eligible for Air Force or Space Force spouses to pursue higher education

What: Two scholarships available at a value of $2,500

When: Application cycle runs from Dec. 1 until April 30

Association of the United States Army

Where: Association of the United States Army 

Who: Scholarships are available for active-duty, retired, veterans, National Guard and Reserve service members, as well as their spouses and children

What: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts

When: Applications open in February

Hope for the Warriors

Where: Restoring Family Scholarship

Who: Awarded to spouses of the fallen

What: Award amounts vary

When: Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 for spring 2022

National Military Family Association

Where: National Military Family Association

Who: Spouses who are eligible to hold a valid military ID

What: Scholarships for a variety of educational and employment pursuits average $1,000

When: Open all-year round

Navy Wives Clubs of America

Where: NMCCG Enlisted Dependent Spouse Scholarship

Who: Dependent spouse or widow or widower of active-duty or retired Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard service member to continue their college education, vocational business or other training

What: Two scholarships awarded annually

When: Applications due by March 31

Pat Tillman Foundation

Where: Pat Tillman Foundation

Who: Current spouses of a veteran or active service members, as well as surviving spouses

What: Annual funding for academic expenses

When: Applications are open Feb. 1-Feb. 28

My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program (MyCAA)

Where: My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program

Who: Spouses of service members on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, O-1 to O-2, W-1 to W-2

What: Tuition benefit up to $4,000

When: Continuous

Learn more about the MyCAA Program in our overview.

FRA Education Foundation

Where: Fleet Reserve Association

Who: Individuals associated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard through their service or that of their spouse, parent, grandparent or great-grandparent

What: Tuition benefit of up to $5,000, applicable for trade school, community or four-year college and graduate degrees

When: Applications available Sept. 1-April 15

Thanks USA Military Spouse Scholarship

Where: ThanksUSA 

Who: Military spouses and college-age children obtaining their first undergraduate degree

What: Scholarships are $3,000

When: Application cycle runs from March 1 until April 15

Wings Over America

Where: Wings Over America Foundation 

Who: Navy Aviation spouse or dependent child 

What: Award amounts vary

When: Prequalification deadline is Feb. 1

Veterans Affairs Programs

GI Bill

Where: Department of Veterans Affairs, GI Bill Benefits

Who: Qualified dependents

What: The DoD can approve the Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) of up to 36 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefit to a service member’s spouse or dependent child; benefits may be applied for tuition, housing, and books and supplies

When: Continuous

Learn more about the GI Bill program in our GI Bill Guide.

The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

Where: VA, Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

Who: Spouse or child of service member who has died, been captured, gone missing or been disabled in service 

What: Monthly payment to help cover the cost of college or graduate degree programs, career-training certificate courses, educational and career counseling, apprenticeships or on-the-job training

When: Continuous

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

Where: VA, Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship 

Who: Spouse or children of an active-duty service member who died in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001

What: Up to 36 months of benefits, including money for tuition, housing, books and supplies

When: Continual basis

Maximizing Your Education Benefits

Whether you choose to use your military benefits or pay for your higher education with scholarships and savings, it’s important to understand your education benefits.

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About Meredith Morales

Meredith is a military spouse who has experienced the struggles of managing PCS moves, handling family finances, waiting through NTC rotations, and preparing for her husband’s upcoming deployment.

Before joining the military community, Meredith worked in Tacoma, Washington. There, she supported Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Service members, civilian employees, and their families by building and promoting programs for transit, bikes, carpools, and vanpools.

At JBLM Meredith was introduced to her US Army husband. They now reside in El Paso, Texas, with their Boston terrier mix.

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