You probably know all about the G.I. Bill. But how much do you know about the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), an educational grant program for military spouses? This Dept. of Defense initiative is meant to equip spouses with licenses, certifications and/or the education you may need to compete in a tight job market.
How does it work?
The MyCAA program offers financial assistance to qualified junior-level military spouses interested in pursuing portable careers in high-growth, high-demand fields. Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness states the goals of program this way: “We’re trying to empower, to give spouses in particular, an opportunity to be immediately impactful as soon as they get into a community. We want to make sure they have opportunities to work when they get to a new duty station.”
Currently, the MyCAA benefit provides up to a total of $4000-with an annual fiscal-year cap of $2000-to help eligible spouses fund professional credentials, licenses or education. MyCAA funds can be used for education leading to an associate degree. Higher-level degrees are not currently being funded by MyCAA, but graduate level courses required for Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) which are used as electives in an approved program of study are covered.
Eligibility for the program:
· Spouses of service members in active duty pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2.
· Spouses of service members on Title 10 orders.
· Employment status of the participant is not a factor.
Colleges must be accredited. The school you select does not have to be one of the 3,000 colleges already participating, but it can take up to 60 days to have a new school added to the program. So plan accordingly. You can look up your school in the MyCAA student portal. If your school is not currently participating, follow the instructions to have schools added to the program.
To set-up a MyCAA Account:
Visit the MyCAA Spouse Portal at: https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa
· Provide your spouse’s profile information. The information you provide will be verified in DEERS to determine program eligibility.
· If eligible, you will be able to open a MyCAA account through the spouse portal.
· You must develop an Education and Training Plan detailing your career goal, school and campus information the courses you plan to take to obtain your associates, license or credential. Your plan will be reviewed within 10 business days.
· After your educational plan has been approved you can request Financial Assistance (FA) for your classes (guidance is available in the portal). Tuition is paid directly to the school.
· You can continue using MyCAA to fund your education for 3 years or until you have used the $4,000 allotted for each participant.
Educational counseling is available for military spouses of all ranks even if not eligible for MyCAA funds. These services can assist spouses locate other sources of educational funding including federal, state and local educational assistance programs. MyCAA also offers referrals to military friendly employers for spouses looking for career opportunities. Spouses can learn more about MyCAA on Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 or online at https://www.militaryonesource.com.
by Deb Swearingen, Air Force spouse