Multiply 712,000 military spouses by $6000. Now you know why the part of the MyCAA program that allowed active duty spouses to seek a bachelor’s or graduate degree is dead, dead, dead. While MyCAA once offered military spouses the degree we wanted, the military could not actually afford the program.
Oh yeah? So what do you do if you still want to finish your degree? What kind of schools accept students who move all the time? Where is the money for that degree gonna come from now? At the recent Spouse Summit, spouse careers and education were central. Three Washington insiders gave their best advice for getting a four-year degree without MyCAA:
1. Get your degree before you get married.
“You can have it all. You can do anything” advised Mike Brinck a Staff Director on the House Veterans Affairs Committee for the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee. Just because you marry into the military doesn’t mean your education and career will be on hold forever. Yet Brinck pointed out that the easiest way to get your education is do it before you ever marry someone in the military. That’s a flat-out, bald-faced, bone-ugly truth I hate to hear. Moving frequently does play havoc with your education unless all of your classes can be taken from an online institution. The best advice really is to get your diploma before you start trying on wedding dresses. Sigh.
2. Send for step-by-step directions.
Do you need explicit, step-by-step direction for how to choose which school to attend and how to get the money to pay for it? Kathy Moakler, Government Relations Director for the National Military Family Association, brought copies of the Military Spouse Education Resource Guide for all Spouse Summit participants. The directions (for those hundreds of thousands of us who did not get our diplomas first) on how to get a four-year degree don’t get any easier than this. Moakler also pointed out that NMFA granted 500 scholarships to military spouses last year alone.
3. Call a real person
Aggie Byers from the Military Community and Family Policy division of the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense says the easiest way to figure out all the complicated bits of going back to school is to call a real person. Call Military OneSource Spouse Career Center at 1-800-342-9647. This is a free service provided by the Department of Defense. Ask for a career counselor to help you work through your particular situation.
4. Tell your story. Change the world.
Policy is being made for military families every day. Since military spouses have notoriously low rates of response to surveys, it is really difficult for policy makers to know what we need. Aggie Byers invites military spouses to send her an email telling her about what you want to do for a career or education, how you are trying to do it and what the result of your effort has been so far. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at SpouseBuzz are also interested in your story. We are looking for military spouses who have started the back to school process. What is it really like to be in classes with teenagers? How do you manage to get study time with kids around? How did you decide what you wanted to major in? What are your tips for finishing papers or working in study groups or getting your family to pitch in? Send us your education story through the “Contact” button at the top of the page.
Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan?? The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.