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Military Family Education Benefits

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The U.S. Military knows that spouses and dependents make sacrifices while their family members serve on active duty. Spouses and children of servicemen and women have to deal with moves between duty stations, and long periods of separation. The U.S. Military also knows that one of the ways to keep their service members happy is to keep spouses and dependents happy, so as a result a number of military education programs are available to assist military spouses and dependents in furthering their educations.

Many of these military education programs take into account how difficult it can be to pursue an education while moving from base to base. Some of the programs are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), while others are put on by branch-specific non-profit relief organizations that are dedicated to assisting the service members and their families.

What are the Available Military Education Benefits for Spouses?

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer of education benefits may be done between a service member and his/her spouse if certain eligibility criteria are met. This benefit is available to both service members on active duty and those who have retired. The GI Bill transfer entitles the spouse or dependent to all of the military education benefits to which the sponsoring service member is eligible.

Vice Admiral E.P. Travers Loan Program (Travers Program)

The Travers Program is administered by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. It provides eligible spouses of Navy-Marine Corps service members with $500-$3,000 in interest-free loans per academic year to pursue an undergraduate degree or certificate. The loans may be used for tuition, books, or other direct educational costs. The loans are only available to military spouses residing in the U.S., and the service member must be on active duty.

Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)

STAP is administered by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. The program provides up to $3,000 per academic year in interest-free loans for Navy-Marine Corps spouses to pursue a college degree. The loan is only available to spouses residing outside of the U.S., and may be used for tuition, books, or other direct education costs for the education of a military spouse. The service member must be on active duty.

General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant

This grant is administered by the Air Force Relief Society and may provide up to $2,000 per academic year to Air Force spouses residing within the U.S. The service member must be on active duty. The grant may be used to pursue an undergraduate degree and may be applied to tuition and fees for the education of a military spouse.

General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)

This program is administered by the Air Force Relief Society, and may provide up to $1,500 per year to Air Force spouses who reside outside of the U.S. with their military spouse on active duty. The funds may be used for tuition and fees to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP)

This program is administered by the Army Emergency Relief, and provides up to $2,500 per academic year to Army spouses for tuition and fees used to pursue an undergraduate degree. The spouse must reside within the U.S., and the service member may be on active duty, retired, or have died while on active duty or retired.

Overseas Spouse Education Assistance Program

This program, administered by Army Emergency Relief, provides tuition assistance to Army spouses who are living overseas with their military spouse. The service member must be on active duty. The funds may be used to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship

This scholarship is administered by the National Military Family Association, and is available to spouses of all military branches. Your military spouse must have served on active duty, in the reserves, the National Guard, or be retired from one of these organizations. You may also be eligible if your military spouse died while on active duty or after retiring. To be eligible, you must have a valid military ID card. The scholarship may be used for tuition and fees for attending college, graduate school, vocational school, or other eligible programs on a full or part time basis.

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)

Offered by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program provides qualified military spouses with up to $6,000.00 in financial assistance to purse degrees and certificates that can lead to portable careers (careers that aren't tied to specific locations). The spouses of DoD Active Duty members are eligible for this benefit, as are spouses of activated members of the National Guard and Reserve Components who are on Title 10 orders.

What are the Available Military Education Programs for Dependents?

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer of military education benefits may take place between a service member and his/her dependents if the eligibility criteria are met. Once a GI Bill transfer takes place, the dependent is eligible for the same benefits to which the service member was entitled. The service member may be on active duty, or have already separated from service.

Vice Admiral E.P. Travers Loan Program (Travers Program)

The Travers Program may be used by Navy-Marine Corps dependents to pursue an undergraduate degree through traditional on-campus college courses or online education programs. The program provides up to $3,000 in interest free loans which may be used for tuition and fees if eligibility requirements are met.

General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant

This grant may be used by Air Force service member dependents pursuing undergraduate degrees. The grant provides up to $2,000 per academic year and may be applied to online education programs or conventional classroom study. Dependents must meet eligibility requirements in order to qualify for the grant.

Major General James Ursano Scholarship Program

This scholarship program is for dependent children of active duty or retired Army service members. The scholarship may be used to pursue an undergraduate degree through conventional classes or online education. Dependents must meet the eligibility requirements of the scholarship.

R.O.T.C. Scholarships

Dependents are eligible for 2 and 4 year R.O.T.C. Scholarships. These scholarships are open to anyone who meets eligibility requirements, and the funds can pay for most of the costs associated with pursuing a degree. Upon graduation, and successful completion of military training, the dependent may receive a commission as a military officer, and serve on active duty for a period of time.

Scholarships for Military Children

This scholarship program is administered by the Fisher House, and is available to sons and daughters of active duty or retired service members, or are survivors of a service member. You may be eligible if you have a valid military ID card and are attending, or planning to attend college on a full time basis, and working towards your initial undergraduate degree.

Marine Corps Scholarship Program

This program provides scholarships for sons and daughters of Marine Corps service members who are either on active duty, serving in the reserves, retired with an Honorable Discharge after serving at least 90 days on active duty, or killed while serving. The program also provide scholarships for the sons and daughters of Navy Corpsmen who served with the Marine Corps, and are either on active duty, serving with the reserves, retired with an Honorable Discharge after serving 90 days on active duty, or were killed while serving. The scholarship may be used for attending college on a full time basis working toward your initial undergraduate degree.

Anchor Scholarship Foundation

This scholarship program provides assistance to the sons and daughters of active duty or retired Navy service members who served at least 6 years on active duty with the U.S. Atlantic or Pacific Fleet. The scholarship may be used for tuition and fees for attending a college full time while pursuing an initial undergraduate degree.

What is the Service Members Opportunity College (SOC)?

The SOC is a collection of approximately 1,800 colleges and universities that work together to make it easier for service members and their families to earn college degrees. The SOC may be used by service member spouses and dependents to pursue an assortment of undergraduate degrees. The participating schools make it easy to transfer course credits from one school to another, and also reduce residency requirements for earning a degree.

What are the Most Popular Military Spouse Careers?

The most popular military spouse careers are those which permit a military spouse to take their careers with them as they move locations with their service member spouse. This type of career is often called a portable career. A few examples of some of the more popular portable careers for military spouses are:

These careers are similar in that once you are trained in the field you may work in any part of the country. In some cases, you may have to change employers, or obtain local certification, but in others it is simply a matter of plugging in your computer.