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

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Military Spouse Scholarships
Scholarships and education assistance are available for military spouses seeking education. Read on to learn how to cash in on these opportunities.
Table of Contents
  1. Why Scholarships?
  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. Air Force Association
    2. Association of the United States Army
    3. Coast Guard Foundation
    4. Hope for the Warriors
    5. National Military Family Association
    6. Navy Wives Clubs of America
    7. Pat Tillman Foundation
    8. My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program (MyCAA)
    9. FRA Education Foundation
    10. ThanksUSA Military Spouse Scholarship
    11. 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

If you’ve decided to further or change your career through higher education, then congratulations! That’s fantastic news. 

Now that you’ve made this decision, you might be getting a little concerned about how you’re going to pay for it.

Don’t worry. This article covers tips and tricks to find and get the best scholarships for military spouses.

Why Scholarships?

Unlike loans, scholarships never need to be paid back. This means if you aren’t applying for a scholarship you may be eligible to receive, you are potentially leaving free money on the table.

Tips to Find and Get the Best Scholarships

With thousands and 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’ve 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.

But there are so many more places to look. In fact, Military Support organizations and non-profit organizations host a variety of small to medium-sized scholarships.

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

  • Non-profit foundations
  • Military support organizations
  • Scholarship websites

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

Some surprising sources of scholarship money may actually be very near you. By that, we mean that 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

There must be something on your to-do list that you could put lower as a lower priority or leave off entirely. For the sake of avoiding perfectionism, we should all drop some things from our to-do list and accept that we can’t do everything.

With that in mind, we can probably replace weeding the backyard with an hour of scholarship applications. Instead of watching that second episode, we can dedicate half an hour to revising our scholarship essays.

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 own requirements and set of qualities for those applying for the scholarship. 

That’s why it is important to:

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

Tip #5: Apply for Federal Aid as Well

Don’t 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

We’ve brought together some of the best scholarships and programs available to military spouses pursuing higher education. Here you’ll find:

  • Military Service Education Assistance Programs
  • Scholarship Programs, and
  • Veterans Affairs Programs

Military Service Education Assistance Programs

Army Emergency Relief

Where: Army’s Spouse Education Assistance 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 January 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

Air Force Association

Where: Air Force Association

Who: Eligibility is dependent on scholarship opportunity. Scholarships available for Air Force and Space Force active duty, retired, veterans, spouses, and children

What: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts

When: Application cycle runs from December 1 until April 30

Association of the United States Army

Where: Association of the United States Army 

Who: Eligibility is dependent on scholarship opportunity. Scholarships available for active duty, retired, veterans, National Guard, and Reserve service members, as well as spouses, and children

What: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts

When: Applications open in February

Coast Guard Foundation

Where: Coast Guard Foundation 

Who: Spouses and children of enlisted Coast Guard members, children of fallen Coast Guard members, and enlisted Coast Guard members.

What: Award amounts vary

When: Dates will be posted in February

Hope for the Warriors

Where: Hope for the Warriors

Who: Spouses and caregivers of 100% disabled, post-9/11 Service members. Different awards for survivors of the fallen and those pursuing associates, bachelor, graduate and post-graduate, and Master of Social Work. 

What: Award amounts vary.

When: Quarterly

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: Quarterly

Navy Wives Clubs of America

Where: Navy Wives Club of America 

Who: Spouses and children of an enlisted member of the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard

What: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts

When: Applications due by March 31

Pat Tillman Foundation

Where: Pat Tillman Foundation

Who: Service members, veterans, and spouses who are full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. 

What: Annual funding for academic expenses

When: Applications are open February 1 – February 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 own service or that of their spouse, parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.

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

When: Applications available September 1 – April 15

ThanksUSA 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: Pre-qualification deadline is February 1

Veterans Affairs Programs

GI Bill

Where: U.S. Department of Veteran’s 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 their spouse or dependent child. The 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: U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

Who: Spouse or child of Service member who has died, been captured or 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: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 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 September 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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