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MyCAA Benefits for the Military Spouse

If you are a servicemember, or a spouse or dependent of a servicemember, there are numerous education benefits at your disposal to help you complete your post-secondary education. The most commonly discussed benefits are the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. While the Post-9/11 GI Bill allows for benefits to be transferred to spouses and dependents, neither focuses entirely on the family members of servicemembers, particularly military spouses.

In response to the need to ensure military spouses have access to degree and certificate programs that lead to careers that can move with them to frequent relocations and deployments, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA. This program provides education and training, career and financial assistance, counseling, and employment assistance for the spouses of both activated Reserve and active duty servicemembers.

If you are a servicemember, or a spouse or dependent of a servicemember, there are numerous education benefits at your disposal to help you complete your post-secondary education. The most commonly discussed benefits are the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. While the Post-9/11 GI Bill allows for benefits to be transferred to spouses and dependents, neither focuses entirely on the family members of servicemembers, particularly military spouses.

In response to the need to ensure military spouses have access to degree and certificate programs that lead to careers that can move with them to frequent relocations and deployments, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA. This program provides education and training, career and financial assistance, counseling, and employment assistance for the spouses of both activated Reserve and active duty servicemembers.

MyCAA Overview

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program mission is to assist military spouses to train and/or qualify for readily portable careers. Starting on October 25, 2011, military spouses of servicemembers in the pay grades of E1-E5, W1-W2 and O1-O2 are eligible for up to $4,000 in financial assistance to pursue an associate's degree, license, or certification that leads to employment in a high demand, high growth portable career.

Portable careers are career fields that typically have a wide array of employment opportunities where servicemembers are stationed. Example career fields include:

  • Construction
  • Financial Services
  • Health Services
  • Hospitality Management
  • Information Technology
  • Real Estate

Other popular portable career fields include education, homeland security, and business management.

MyCAA Eligibility

The MyCAA program will be available to any military spouse whose husband or wife is in the pay grades of E1-E5, W1-W2 and O1-O2, and is not also on active duty military service. Additionally, the spouse cannot be legally separated from the active duty spouse. Spouses of federally activated National Guard and Reserve military members are also eligible for MyCAA benefits. Activated National Guard and Reserve servicemembers are eligible from the date of Military Recall and Mobilization until 180 days after demobilization.

If you are a military spouse who is also an active duty servicemember or activated National Guard or Reserve servicemember, you are not eligible for benefits. The MyCAA program also does not provide coverage for Coast Guard spouses.

How to Use MyCAA Funds

MyCAA funds can be used to help pay for tuition for both training and education courses. Additionally, fees for either credentials or licenses for professionals such as medical professionals and teachers can be covered. For individuals looking to complete a high school diploma, the MyCAA also pays for GED tests and high school completion classes.

MyCAA benefits pay for several types of education:

  • Continuing Education Unit classes (CEUs)
  • Certification courses and certifications
  • High school equivalency and English language courses
  • Initial education or training for a portable career
  • Associate's degree programs

The MyCAA program also covers books, supplies, or other necessary equipment if those costs are included in the cost of a course. However, it's important to remember that MyCAA only pays for tuition and educational fees and not peripheral expenses such as:

  • Application fees
  • Graduation fees
  • Child care
  • Parking
  • Testing fees
  • Computers

MyCAA Enrollment and Educational Institutions

MyCAA is an Internet-based program that allows military spouses to enroll and access their benefits through the Web. After you enroll at the official MyCAA Website and create a profile, the Department of Defense will review your benefit eligibility through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

Selecting a School. Today, numerous institutions are approved by MyCAA for student enrollment. If your school of choice is not listed, there is an enrollment section for schools on the MyCAA Website. The school enrollment process could take up to four months, so submit an application early if your targeted school or institution does not currently have MyCAA approval.

Career and Training Plan. You also need to develop a Career and Training plan for your portable career field. The Career and Training plan includes your name, the school name, and the courses you've selected to complete. You can add to the course list at any time during your education.

It is prudent to contact a career counselor or military programs staff member at your chosen institution when developing a Career and Training Plan. He or she can guide you in the right direction and help you select the correct courses for your portable career field.

Applying for Financial Assistance. Once a Career and Training Plan is approved, the spouse can apply for financial assistance within 30 days of the start of classes. You must submit a financial assistance request for your coursework each time you are ready to enroll in classes at your school. Financial assistance requests typically include the following information:

  • School name
  • Course codes
  • Titles of course
  • Start and end dates
  • Course costs

The MyCAA program makes payments directly to your school or institution. And, if you decide not to enroll in a course or have an extenuating circumstance, you can cancel or edit your financial request up to ten days prior to the start of a program, course, or class.

MyCAA and the Military Spouse: A Successful Relationship

With its creation of the MyCAA program, the Department of Defense demonstrated its dedication to the education and success of its military families. According to the Navy Times, over 133,000 military spouses have received MyCAA benefits and another 100,000 are in the process of enrolling.

An extremely popular program, the MyCAA is an excellent tool for military spouses to gain the skills and tools necessary to find employment and provide for their families when re-locations and service assignments occur. The opportunities provided under this program offer a superb opportunity for military spouses of servicemembers to improve both the present and the future for themselves and their families.

Note: The list below includes existing and potential MyCAA schools. Confirm with an Admissions Counselor that the school already accepts MyCAA funds and if they don't already, you can invite them to participate in the program.