Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)
Most active duty service branches offer some form of a spouse tuition aid program. While there are specifics and nuances in how each branch approaches these programs, all spouse tuition aid programs share the same mission: to provide financial aid to spouses in order to help them further their post-secondary educations. The end goal is to help spouses increase their career opportunities, regardless of stationing.
Army Spouse Tuition Aid Benefits
The Army created two spouse tuition aid programs - one for spouses stationed overseas, the other one for those stateside. With the Overseas Spouse Education Assistance Program (OSEAP), education paid for by the program must be complete while the spouse is living overseas with his or her servicemember. Need-based, OSEAP will pay up to 50% of tuition costs with a maximum of $500 per term or up to $2,500 per academic year. Spouses must submit an application by each term's deadline to qualify.
The OSEAP's sister program is the Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP). While SSEAP is similar to OSEAP, it primarily serves widows(ers) of both active duty and retired soldiers, along with active duty spouses stationed stateside. Submit your SSEAP application before the deadline to get started.
The Army Emergency Relief (AER) administers both the OSEAP and SSEAP programs. Note that both only provide benefits toward your first undergraduate degree; benefits do not apply for second or graduate degrees.
General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP)
The Air Force's STAP operates differently from other branchs' programs. Its goal is providing tuition assistance of up to 50 percent of unmet tuition charges after other forms of financial aid, such as grants or scholarships, are applied. There is a $1,500 per academic year funding cap per participating spouse.
Air Force STAP applies to spouses of active duty airmen or officers accompanying their sponsors overseas. This gives spouses an opportunity to complete everything from a high school diploma to master's degree--advancing their educations and career potential. For application procedures and deadlines, qualified spouses must see their local Base Education Office.
Navy, Marines Spouse Tuition Aid Programs
In 2009, the Navy's Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP) shifted from a need-based grant to an interest-free loan for Navy and Maine spouses stationed overseas with their sponsors. The change allows the military to provide benefits to more spouses who are completing their educations overseas. Loans pay up to 50 percent of the tuition costs for either undergraduate or graduate programs, including both part-time or full-time training. The maximum loan benefit is $3,000 per calendar year. Eligible spouses may apply for STAP by through the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Offices.
Stateside-stationed spouses can use the Travers Program to further their education, which offers interest-free loans between $500 and $3,000 per academic year. Loans must be repaid within 24 months by paying at least a minimum payment of $50 per month through allotment pay. Interested spouses can apply before the term's deadline.
One service-wide program is the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA. Funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), MyCAA pays the tuition for spouses pursuing a "portable career." These careers are ones that are available all over the country so that the spouse might find work regardless of where the family is stationed. Many career fields qualify for the program, including business administration, education and health services. These jobs are plentiful in and around military installations worldwide.
The MyCAA program is available to spouses of active duty Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines in the pay grades of E1 to E5, W1 and W2, and O1 and O2. These spouses now have up to three years to complete:
- an associate's degree
- a certification program
Students of MyCAA are limited to $2,000 of funding per academic year with an overall program maximum of $4,000. Spouses of Reserve, National Guard and AGR servicemembers on active duty Title 10 orders are also eligible for the MyCAA program so long as the sponsor remains on Title 10 orders until the spouse completes his/her training program. Applications can be submitted at any time, with the first step being the creation of a MyCAA account.
No matter which spouse tuition assistance program is used, spouses should know that these benefits are available to help them achieve their career goals through education.
Learn more about military spouse benefits: