Help for Military Spouses Going Back to School

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A college degree may lead to better job opportunities and better pay. In fact, earning a bachelor's or graduate degree increases one's average hourly wage compared to those with only a high school diploma, according to a Rand Corp. survey.

However, going back to school for military spouses is a sizeable time commitment and an expensive financial obligation. What's more, constant relocation may cause a spouse to lose credits if he or she transfers to another college. But there are financial and credit-transfer programs available to spouses to help spouses get an education.

Here are a few programs that offer financial assistance:
  • The Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) offers partial tuition assistance (50 percent of course tuition with a maximum of $1,500 per academic year) to spouses of active-duty servicemembers stationed overseas.
  • The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program provides $1,500 in grants to selected children of active duty service members and Navy spouses stationed overseas. To qualify, the spouse must be a full- or part-time student studying for a vocational certificate, undergraduate degree or graduate degree. The funds granted range from $1,500 a year for an undergraduate degree to $1,750 a year for a graduate degree.
  • The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program (CGMA) offers a supplemental education grant of $150 per year. This grant is applicable to any family member's educational expenses. However, CGMA does not cover tuition expenses.
These programs assist with transferring class credits:
  • The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOCAD) program is a consortium of more than 1,500 colleges and universities that offer associate and bachelor's degree in the United States. This program transfers credits between the colleges allowing the student to continue with his or her education and not retake any classes. SOCAD is ideal for military spouses who might have to relocate several times.
  • The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges for the navy (SOCNAV) is similar to the SOCAD, but offers associate and bachelor's degree programs on or accessible to Navy installations.
Each program varies from service to service but all provide the proper resources to help military family members obtain a high level of education.

The Next Step

If you haven't found a military-friendly school, then the best way to get started is to use Military.com's School Finder. It will help you get information from fully accredited colleges and universities that offer both on-campus or online options. 
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