Paycheck Chronicles

Actual Answers About MyCAA

Today I received the most interesting comment on Even More MyCAA Reports, and I asked the author for permission to copy the entire comment here.  I am so impressed that she got something that resembles real answers!  I have not edited the comment, and I haven't verified any of the information in it.   I hope you find it informative.  Here goes:

MyCAA recipient since June/​July 2009

Frustrated by the lack of useful information provided by the MyCAA resource line, and clearly not understanding why more specific detail or notice has been given, I started looking into the reasoning behind the sudden stop the MyCAA program has implemented. The resource line rep at MyCAA kept referring to “they” in their reasoning which I finally learned was the DOD – but who at the DOD. I started making phone calls…

On Friday, 26 February I spoke with a DOD representative supposedly connected to, or in charge of, the MyCAA program, Pat Shanaghan. This after speaking with a very secretative DOD spokesperson April Cunningham – she let Shanaghan know of my interest in speak with someone in charge of the program and passed on my contact info – she refused to give me contact information.  While talking by phone, Shanaghan unequivocally told me that the MyCAA program is an unguaranteed benefit program which never promised to provide funds past what is approved through the financial assistance voucher process, regardless of being told a total of $6000 is allocated per approved spouse. The figure that was listed in the top right corner of the log in page which stated how much money a spouse had left to use of the $6000 was basically fictitious – not a guarantee of funds left to use but a guide to what might be a spouses fund if a financial assistance voucher is completed – and as we all know, vouchers for those funds are limited to current class enrollments.

For my account, I had used about $3000 of my supposed $6000 fund. Basically, the funds are pooled and taken from a big pot, when that pot grew close to emptying the plug was pulled on the program and it did not matter what “funds” were left in each spouses account because these DOD officials never earmarked the funds for specific spouse use, rather a general fund. You see, even though we were told we would get $6000, that money was not marked for individual use despite what each spouse’s log on page listed as available, not to mention the MyCAA official notation on college financial documentation listing appropriated funds as tuition assistance (EMPL) loans.

From what I learned talking with Shanaghan, the month of January saw a huge spike in DOD approvals of spouse program applications. Basically, this office approved too many spouses for funds that were not available. Instead of turning away new applicants due to insufficient funds, they shut down the program for “review”. This shutdown is the result of poor oversight – the pool of funds should have been better accounted for when considering what funding was already approved to a large number of spouses. I was under the impression that the MyCAA program would stop taking applications at a certain point in order to maintain service to those already promised funds. Be this as it may, someone approved far too many applications for what funds were available. For my account, I looked at this transaction as binding – I was approved for $6000, I counted on that $6000 and expected to use it fully. As I told Shanaghan, a person cannot walk away from a student loan of $6000 and say – oh sorry I have no more money – so MyCAA should not be allowed to do the same. This is where Shanaghan insisted this program was an unguaranteed benefit that can be taken away at any time. It seems to me this is class action legal material.

When asked if the program would be brought back online, Shanaghan seemed to believe it would, but would probably be changed. I told him I had about $1700 due next month – would my funding be there for that, should I tell the college that MyCAA would pay it – he told me no, that would not be wise to do. When asked if the amount previously approved for spouses would be changed he said everything was being considered.

Due to poor oversight and the lack of true commitment to spouses approved for this program prior to January the government has found yet another way to be unaccountable.

Wow!  That is a ton more information that I've heard anywhere else, and explains a lot. In the full comment, the author has included some names and telephone numbers that you might be interested in calling.  I'm not reprinting them here because I'm a wimp, but you can click over and see them there. Many thanks to the comment's author for her persistence and fact-finding.

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