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Squeeze Every Dime From MyCAA

Lots of cash. Getty Images

If you have been a milspouse for more than a year, you have probably heard a lot of complaints about MyCAA, the Defense Department’s tuition assistance tool for military spouses.

The complaints are all true -- MyCAA offers less money than it used to. The limited rank availability can make starting and finishing your degree (while balancing the financial needs of your household) while you’re still eligible a little tricky.

Also, if you want to qualify, you’re going to have to narrow your academic preference to something a little more specialized than “general studies.”

Yet even with these complaints, MyCAA is still an incredible resource -- think of it as $2,000 a year more for school than you have right now!

Do You Know The Basics?

MyCAA is a tuition assistance tool that covers job-related training, education and licensing for spouses of active-duty servicemembers.Your sponsor needs to be within ranks E1-E5, W1-W-2, and O1-O2, including National Guard and Reserve spouses whose sponsors are on Title 10 orders.

On the money end, MyCAA provides a maximum benefit of $4,000 with an annual fiscal cap of $2,000 that you can use toward an associate’s degree (with a career-focused major) or professional licensing and certification from an approved program.

Use It Or Lose It

It’s a benefit that you should make use of while you still have it. Contrary to any negative opinions you might hear, the people who use it are glad they did. Natalie, a Marine Corps wife in North Carolina, couldn’t be happier.

Natalie started her studies at a local community college near Camp Lejeune when she was 20. “When I decided to go back to school,” she said, “I didn’t really know anything about MyCAA, so I paid the first semester myself. But as soon as I found out about it, I applied.”

And she’s so glad she did.

“Signing up was easy,” Natalie said. The MyCAA web portal allows you to apply online, where she entered her basic information, her sponsor’s information (“I had to put in his info to prove he was a Marine,” she explained), and the information for the program she wanted to attend.

In case she had any questions, her school, like many others that accept MyCAA, also has staff on hand to help spouses navigate the MyCAA application process.

It wasn’t tricky. “The only thing I had an issue with was that they make you put down a career ambition, and if your ambition doesn’t match your major, they won’t send the money.” Fearing her application might be rejected, she applied as a hopeful teacher. Now, that’s looking like a likely career.

Persnickety About Their Rules

MyCAA won’t help you on every potential career path. You can’t use this to get a Montessori teaching certificate, for example, or to take the GRE. But you can use MyCAA to get your teacher’s license renewed in your new state, take (and pass!) the Bar exam, or get trained in a number of high-demand, hiring fields. A little schooling can go a long way, and that’s just what MyCAA is here for.

If you’re starting to think about an associates degree, and you aren’t sure what programs will position you for the most in-demand jobs, we’ve got you covered. These jobs are the most in-demand nationwide, these are all ones you can get with an associate’s degree, and these jobs are ones we’ve looked at and vetted as really great for military spouses.

Making use of MyCAA while you still have the benefit opens up a world of doors. Not only will it add that awesome degree line to your resume (and involve a graduation with a cap and gown you can be proud of), but it opens you up to a world of jobs that you can take with you wherever you go, providing more for your family and yourself.

Related: 3 Reasons to Get Your Associates Degree

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