Eligible military spouses are now able to receive up to $6,000 of tuition assistance that can help them pursue education, training, licenses, certificates and degrees leading to employment in in what the military calls "portable career fields. Portable careers are those that are likely to provide job opportunities in most locations where military Service members are stationed. These might include but are not limited to: business/management, construction trades, education, financial services, health services, homeland security, hospitality management, human resources, information technology, real estate, etc.
When Congress passed the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, they mandated that the Department of Defense set up such a program. The program has been running under a test-phase, but DOD has now made it a permanent program. The program is called the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program
Who is Eligible
Spouses of Active Duty members of the Department of Defense and activated members of the National Guard and Reserve Components are eligible. The period of eligibility for spouses of Guard and Reserve members is from the date of the Alert or Warning Order for Military Recall or Mobilization, through activation and deployment until 180 days following De-Mobilization. Spouses of the severely injured, ill, wounded or killed in action are also eligible.
Military spouses who are legally separated by state law or court order are ineligible. Spouses who are active duty members or activated Guard or Reserve members themselves are ineligible. Unfortunately, because the Coast Guard is not part of the Department of Defense, their spouses are not eligible (Congress limited eligibility to DOD active duty spouses when they wrote the law, perhaps they will clear up this oversight in future legislation.
What the Program Pays For
Up to $6,000 (in a lifetime) for expenses such as education and training programs, tuition, licensing and credentialing fees. This includes degree programs (e.g. associates, bachelors, masters, doctoral and post doctoral), continuing education classes (including those offered through professional associations), Bar, CPA and other similar exams, state certifications for teachers, medical professionals and other licensed professionals.
What the Program Will Not Pay For
MyCAA does not pay for computers, school application fees, graduation or membership fees, student activity cards, child care, parking, transportation, or medical services. NOTE: If the cost of a course includes books, supplies or other necessary equipment, MyCAA will cover that cost. Payments are made directly to schools using the MyCAA’s electronic payment system. Referrals are made to federally funded English As A Second Language (ESL) Classes and GED Classes and Testing Programs.
To use the program, your school must be approved and accepted for the program by DOD. Schools which are currently approved can be viewed online at: https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/User/Spouse/FindInstitution.aspx.
How to Sign Up
Open a MyCAA at: https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/default.aspx.