As a new military spouse, the lifestyle can be overwhelming. There is so much to learn and remember. I remember those early days. Between working full time and taking 3 or 4 college classes at night, I didn’t have time for much else. I didn’t participate in much on base and my friends were all women I worked with. Because of this, there was a lot of things I missed out on. I know this now and I wish I would have taken the time to look further into all the benefits the military offers.
For instance, have you used your MyCAA benefits? The program didn’t start until 2010 and by then I was no longer eligible. I wish it would have been available when I was in school though. I would have used it instead of taking out student loans. I’m still paying on those loans. Less than a 20% of eligible spouses use their benefits. Why? Why are we not taking advantage of this? It’s free money! You don’t even have to earn a degree with it. Take a class! Get a certificate! Brush up your skills! Do something! If we don’t use these benefits, they’ll go away. With the draw down and the DOD budget being cut more and more each year, things like this will be cut. Don’t look back and wish you had used it, just use it!
If you aren’t sure if you are eligible, the program is available to spouses of active duty service members in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2, and O1-O2. including the spouses of activated Guard and Reserve members within those ranks. Spouses of Guard and Reserve members must be able to start and complete their courses while their sponsor is on Title 10 orders.
When looking for a school to use your MyCAA benefits at, consider the following:
- Quality assurance – make sure the school is accredited and meets standards for ethical business practices, refunds, instructor qualifications, and quality of educational offerings.
- Graduation rates, student satisfaction, length of time in business.
- Areas of specialization – there is no need to attend a typical 4 year college, when you only need a certificate.
- Other factors are flexibility of institutional policies, resources made available to students including textbooks, and program length.
- Program length is important because many schools unnecessarily extend their programs in order to meet minimum requirements for eligibility to participate in the student loan program. As a result students spend unnecessary time and tuition dollars.
- Does the school understand the needs of service members and their families?
A school to consider is Martinsburg College. Of the student survey respondents, 95% of students were satisfied with their experience. Textbooks are made available and one-on-one, telephone, and digital tutoring is available if needed. They have worked with the military for over a decade and are familiar with the challenges that face military families, as well as the educational benefits offered.