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What Are My Veteran Spouse Education Benefits?

Veteran Spouse Education Benefits (Photo: Stock Image)
(Photo: Stock image.)

Dear Career,

I was recently told that there are veteran spouse education benefits to help military spouses go back to school. I do owe my previous university money and my husband's contact should be ending in a month or so. I know the GI Bill is an option, but that's something I'd like my husband to use in the future if he decides he would like to go back to school. Is it too late to receive help? If not, where and who do I go to for assistance?

-- Transitioning in Tuscon

Dear Transitioning,

I don't have a lot of good news for you. While there are programs out there for military spouses and education, they come with some restrictions.

The program most commonly referenced for military spouses is the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program. A part of the Defense Department's Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, it helps spouses get licenses, certificates, certifications and some Associate's Degrees. It's meant to help spouses get jobs in portable career fields.

To use it, spouses must be married to a service member on active duty who is and E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-1 or O-1 to O-2. They have to start and finish their work while their spouse is on active duty. Those married to National Guard and Reservists can use MyCAA, but they have to do it while they are activated. Since your husband is getting out soon and this is not a veteran spouse education benefits program, you likely won’t qualify.

Another resource is the National Military Family Association's spouse scholarship program. This program is not rank-specific, and any spouse who possesses a valid military ID can apply, according to NMFA officials. But in your case, again, unless your spouse is retiring and you will maintain a dependent ID, your transitioning status will likely leave you ineligible.

Even transferring the post-9/11 GI Bill may not be an option for you right now. While it can be among the veteran spouse education benefits, unless he already transferred it or is not eligible for an additional service obligation, moving a GI Bill to a spouse or dependent typically requires a contract extension.

If your husband is getting out as the result of a service-connected disability, you might be eligible for Survivor and Dependent Education Assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the requirements are fairly stringent.

One possibility for you could be looking to your local state for any help they may offer. But, again, much of that is for spouses of those on active duty.

I know that's a lot of bad news. I believe traditional financial aid options are likely your most promising route as most of the military spouse specific programs are designed for spouses of active duty, guard or reserve service members and don’t include veteran spouse education benefits.

Good luck with your educational endeavors.

-- Career