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Military Spouse Benefits & Tuition Assistance Programs

Military Spouse Benefits & Tuition Assistance Programs

As a military spouse, you are most likely entitled to certain educational benefits as well as other financial benefits. Military dependent benefits can help you improve your education at little to no cost to yourself, allowing you to better support your family and financially enabling you to care for your spouse if he or she is injured as a result of their military duties.

Military spouse benefits can go a long way, helping you to support yourself and your family during difficult times. There are several different types of veterans spouse benefits programs available, with each program offering unique benefits, along with specific eligibility requirements.

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the different types of available veteran spouse benefits:

Military Spouse Tuition Assistance

Military spouse tuition assistance covers up to the entire costs of a military spouse’s tuition for college classes, some certificates, and most degree programs. Under the guidelines of the Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible veterans spouses can claim financial benefits that get applied toward paying down the costs of pursuing their higher education.

Each branch of the military offers and deals with military veterans benefits slightly differently though, so be sure to look into which benefits are available for your specific situation. See our military spouse tuition assistance outline for exact information on what kind of tuition assistance programs for military spouses are available and how to apply for them.

MyCAA – Military Spouse Center Career Advancement Accounts

The MyCAA program is just one type of the many available military spouse education benefits available. The MyCAA benefit provides up to $4000 (over the course of two years) in financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are studying for associate degree programs and licenses or credentials that will help them become more employable in their chosen field.

Eligibility requirements for the MyCAA financial aid for military spouses includes:

  • Spouses of Active Duty service members in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2 and 01-02, as well as the spouses of activated Guard and Reserve members are eligible for this type of military spouse financial aid.
  • Spouses of the Coast Guard are not eligible to receive MyCAA benefits
  • Eligible military spouses can receive a total of up to $4000 over the course of two years, with each year not exceeding $2000
  • Military spouses must complete their program of choice within three years from the start date of the first course within their program
  • These veteran education benefits can only be used toward paying for associate degrees, certifications and licensures

Military spouses can apply for MyCAA and set up their own account at MyCAA’s official website.

The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program prevents eligible veterans from having to pay full-price for expensive schools, such as private schools, which are likely to charge significantly higher tuition than other colleges and universities.

Schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program have signed a written contract with the VA to agree to cover any tuition costs not covered by their Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, after the difference has exceeded a certain level. Spouses of veterans under Transfer of Entitlement are eligible to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which can potentially save them thousands of dollars while completing their education.

If you’re interested in the Yellow Ribbon Program, please visit our list of Yellow Ribbon Program participating schools to find a college or university that suits your needs.

Disabled Veteran Spouse Benefits

Spouses of disabled veterans are often eligible for disabled veterans benefits that can be used for general expenses or to pursue higher education goals. VA benefits for dependents of disabled veterans vary according to what percentage tier the disabled veteran falls under. Veterans that qualify for disability compensation at 30% or above are also eligible to receive benefits for their dependents. The higher the percentage of disability the veteran is categorized under, the more money both the veteran and his or her spouse will receive in benefits. For detailed charts, facts and figures regarding benefits for spouses of disabled veterans, please visit our page on VA disability rates for disabled veterans.

Surviving Spouse Veterans Benefits

Most widows and widowers of military spouses are eligible for surviving spouse veterans benefits. There are various specific benefits that military spouses can receive including funds to pay for their deceased military spouses burials, funds for survivors’ educations and general funds to cover survivors’ living expenses such as accommodation and food.

These veteran benefits for spouses are usually provided either by The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program or by individual state education assistance programs. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA) offers education and training opportunities for eligible dependents of military spouses and for eligible widows and widowers of military spouses. This program provides up to 45 months of educational benefits which can be used toward degrees, certifications, licensures, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

To be eligible for DEA benefits the surviving spouse or child must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a surviving spouse or child of a military member who died during military service or is disabled to the extent that he or see can no longer survive without the help of others.
  • Be a surviving spouse or child of a military member that is missing in action or has been captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
  • A service-member who has been forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • Every form of eligibility must be VA approved before the benefits are officially awarded.

Further specific details on DEA benefits and how to apply can be found within the Department of Veterans Affairs official website.

For state benefits for spouses of disabled veterans, benefits depend by each individual state and vary in how much is offered. To get precise information on what benefits your state offers to their disabled veterans and their spouses, check with the specific state that you live in.

Military Spouse Health Benefits

Military spouses are eligible to receive TRICARE medical insurance benefits, which is the health care insurance organization for military members, veterans and their dependents. TRICARE is divided into three different sub categories: TRICARE Standard, TRICARE Extra and TRICARE Prime, and each one is run and organized slightly differently.

Military spouses can be added on to each of these TRICARE medical programs and military spouses are also often eligible for TRICARE dental and TRICARE vision coverage. TRICARE is divided into three regions, TRICARE South, TRICARE North and TRICARE West. Once you have determined which TRICARE division you belong to, contact that sector for exact information on what type of TRICARE you qualify for and when and where you can receive treatment. Find out more at our TRICARE benefits page linked to in the paragraph above.

Military Spouse Scholarships

There are many military spouse scholarships available. Scholarships for military spouses may be offered at specific individual colleges and universities, from independent associations, or from government organizations. Some independent associations that offer scholarships for military spouses include, The National Military Family Association’s Military Spouse Scholarship, which provides scholarships to eligible military spouses.

There are a great number of programs offering spouse benefits for veterans, including VA benefits for dependents and educational benefits for military spouses like we’ve outlined above. These benefits can help military spouses attend college, enhance their career, help pay for their accommodation and other living expenses or receive health care for themselves and their children. Military spouse benefits are extremely beneficial and should be explored and used to their full capacity.

If you are a military spouse considering using your veterans education benefits or tuition assistance benefits, make sure you take a look at our military-friendly college article to help you find a school that’s right for you.

For questions about your eligibility, or anything else related to military spouse benefits, please feel free to speak up in the comments section below.

  • Mark

    I qualified for the Army College Fund when I enlisted under the Montgomery GI Bill. I am about to retire, so I switched my Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11  Bill and gave the benefits to my daughter. I never received any of my Army College Fund benefits. What happens to my ACF entitlement once my daughter starts school this summer.

  • Shirley

    I served 4 years active duty in the USAF from 1978 to 1982. I received the Pell Grant on my Bachalor Degree plus loans to receive my Degree.  I am presantly working on my Masters Degree and I have had to use loans to pay for that. I am a vet with an honorable discharge. I was not in service for 9-11. But I feel for the people whose lifes were lost by the ariogrant of a people that does not seem to care how important life is to all ! I have children which servered in the military. My oldest son has been to Iraq 5 times and is still active duty.  My younger son has spent 1 time in Iraq and 1 year tour in Bosia for 6 months. Out of these both sons spent 3 months in Iraq at the same time. My husband and I both were Air Force (My husband 21 and a 1/2 years Retired) My son-in-law was active duty Air Force and had spent 1 year in Korea of which he followed on to Japan to meet my daughter and their boys for a tour there.

    What I am trying to state is why are there so many restrictions on our troops and vets on getting the Yellow Ribbon Program for all of the lives they have and still are having to protect us and even protecting their comarrands.  What if they said people back home do not need us to fight for them I bet these resrictions would change really fast. I thank all the soldiers of all the branches of militaries and the vets for what they have done so I can sleep at night and know them my family are safe each day and night.

    Give these who have given to us to give back to them.

    Shirley