Paycheck Chronicles

Cramming in the Classes Before I Lose MyCAA Assistance

It has been a few weeks since the MyCAA changes were announced.  I am in the group that will no longer be eligible for MyCAA benefits as my husband has been in the military too long.  As a result, I have decided to see how much school I can finish before I am kicked out of the program.  This is not a good time for my family but I know myself well enough to know that I will always have an excuse not to continue if I have to use money from our family's budget.

As the schedule currently stands, I need to have any new career plans approved by 31 August.  My old career plan won't work as we have moved and I can't pursue that program anymore.  I have chosen a new career plan and hopefully filled out all the forms correctly.  I have experienced the backlog of messages to MyCAA and I'm not very trustful of the process, so I submitted my career plan for approval yesterday.  It has been taking about 1o days to get responses to MyCAA messages.  I have requested approval of two different certificate programs that have a significant amount of overlap, so hopefully it won't be completely overwhelming.

The next step is registering for the classes and having the financial assistance approved.  This must be done by October 21, but can be for classes that begin as last as January 15th, 2011.  This is going to be hard for me.  I have a tendency to take on more than I can reasonably handle, and I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to school.  I need to figure out how much I can truly accomplish academically, while also being a mom and a wife and writing this blog.

Ever since the MyCAA program was announced, I have believed that it is a hugely generous offer and that we should all be appreciative of whatever benefit we might get out of it.  I don't believe that I "deserve" it, I haven't "earned" it, and I certainly don't want to sound like I am complaining about it.  However, my experiences with the program have been frustrating and discouraging.  The website is lousy, the process is poorly explained, the schools don't understand their role in the process, and the swamped MyCAA reps have limited ability to help.  I understand that there needed to be changes made to the program and I accept that those changes mean that I will no longer be eligible for assistance.  However, to structure the changes in such a way that people are being forced to choose between two negative choices (passing up my existing grant amount or making life hard for my family while I bury my head in too much school) isn't benefiting military families.

In addition, the restructuring is going to hurt the families that are still eligible for assistance.  Requiring military spouses to finish a program within a specified time period fails to recognize that the life of a military spouse is not in his or her control.  I am sure that there will be many spouses who are unable to complete their educational plans due to deployments or PCSes.  It is just wrong to punish those spouses for doing what the military requires of their families.

Please, if you are currently enrolled in the MyCAA program, be sure to use all your benefits before you lose your eligibility or they expire.  If you are planning to use MyCAA in the future, choose your timing carefully to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit.

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