I have been meaning to do a MyCAA update for months. And then this interesting report was published by the Rand Corporation, and it sat open on my computer for a while. And then, my colleague Amy wrote a comprehensive piece that goes over pretty much everything I had to say. See, procrastination pays off sometimes!
For those of you who don't know, MyCAA is a Department of Defense funded initiative to help the spouses of junior service-members (E1-E5, O1 and O2, and W1 and W2) pay for education leading towards associate's degree, occupational certificate or portable career field license. Up to $4,000 in funding is available, with various qualifications and restrictions.
The program began in 2007, with more generous eligibility and dollar amounts. It was abruptly shut down in October 2009 because the overwhelming response outstripped the resources to manage and pay for the program. The revised program re-opened in October 2010. Current usage is at a lower rate than expected, and some people are speculating that the program may be cut due to under-utilization. Amy's article discusses the exact reasons that people don't use the MyCAA program, and the ways in which the Department of Defense is trying to boost awareness and usage.
In some way, I find the situation sort of funny. The original MyCAA program was wildly successful, and had to close as a direct result of its success. The current MyCAA program has the money, but doesn't have the participants. It seem like there should be some sort of compromise between the two programs that would bring participation up to the desired rates without making it too big.
If you're eligible, and you are interesting in furthering your education, please contact your local education center for information on how the MyCAA program might benefit you. It's a very generous benefit, and it's just waiting for people like you to use it!