Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)
Launched in 2007, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program (MyCAA) provides education benefits to the spouses of servicemembers. A joint venture between the Department of Labor and Department of Defense (DoD), MyCAA helps today's military spouses complete career training, including certificates, associate's degree programs, and licenses that help them gain employment in portable career fields.
Portable careers are typically in-demand fields that allow a spouse to find a job in nearly any area where his/her military spouse may be stationed. Portable career fields include:
- Information technology
- Real estate
- Financial services
- Health services
Common portable career examples include accountant, photographer, medical biller, and Web developer.
MyCAA: Financial Assistance Guidelines
Financial assistance can be used towards certificate, licensure, and associate's degree programs. MyCAA also covers the costs for credentialing fees (such as state certifications for teachers), as well as licensing exams.
MyCAA also covers:
- Continuing Education Unit (CEU) classes
- High school completion classes
- GED examinations
- English as a Second Language (ESL) courses
From the start of his or her first course, a spouse has three years to complete a program of study. MyCAA accounts are limited to a $4,000 maximum benefit with $2,000 fiscal year caps. However, spouses pursuing a certificate or licensure may need to apply for a waiver to the fiscal year cap if the cost exceeds $2,000, but remains up to or below the $4,000 maximum assistance level.
While MyCAA does pay for tuition and educational fees, it does not cover items not included in the cost of a course or degree program. For example, MyCAA funds cannot cover:
- DANTES exams
- Computers or computer software
- College entrance exams
- Testing fees
- Child care
In order to receive funding, a spouse must apply for MyCAA financial assistance prior to starting a course or degree program--MyCAA does not reimburse students.
MyCAA Eligibility Guidelines
In October 2010, the eligibility guidelines for MyCAA were revised. Eligibility is determined upon application for financial assistance--which can happen on a per semester or per course basis. Spouses of active duty Navy, Air Force, Army, or Marine servicemembers, as well as activated Reserve members are eligible if their spouses are at the following pay grades:
National Guard/AGR Members. If the spouse is a National Guard and/or AGR servicemember, the sponsoring spouse must be on active duty orders (Title 10 orders), as reported in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS). If the sponsoring spouse is in Transition Assistance, Alert, or Post Deployment status, MyCAA benefits are not available.
Coast Guard. Coast Guard servicemembers and their spouses are not eligible for the MyCAA program.
Finally, ex-spouses or legally separated spouses via court order do not qualify for MyCAA benefits.
MyCAA Enrollment Guidelines
An Internet-based program, MyCAA allows spouses to manage their benefits through the official MyCAA website. Upon enrollment and profile creation on the official MyCAA website, the Department of Defense reviews the spouse's eligibility through DEERS.
School Eligibility: There are numerous schools and institutions approved by MyCAA. If a particular school is not available, MyCAA provides an enrollment section. However, school enrollment could take several months, so it is advisable to start the application process early.
Career and Training Plan: Spouses must create a Career and Training Plan for the chosen portable career field. This plan outlines the courses and field of study that will be completed within three years. Courses can be added during that three year window.
Financial Assistance Application: Once the Career and Training Plan is submitted and approved, the spouse can then file for financial assistance within 30 days of the start of the courses. Spouses must submit financial assistance requests during each subsequent course enrollment.