contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
Military life is a life like no other, which is why programs aimed at meeting the needs of service members, veterans, and their families are so valuable. MyCAA, which provides financial assistance for military spouses seeking to further their education, is one such program. Once you’ve been approved to proceed with the MyCAA grant, you’ll have to decide where to turn for the education you’re seeking. Here, we share seven things to consider when choosing a college, trade school, licensing, or certification program.
The My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Program was established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2009, shortly after the Post 9/11 GI Bill was put into place for veterans seeking additional education. MyCAA provides up to $4000 in financial assistance to military spouses seeking education, training, and licencing in pursuit of a specific occupation or career field. Via the program, military spouses work with coaches to determine which career path is right for them. You can learn more about MyCAA programs, initiatives, and benefits on our MyCAA page or the MyCAA Military OneSource FAQ page.
Just like all military education benefits, eligibility requirements exist for those hoping to use the MyCAA grant. Military spouses of active-duty service members and National Guard and reservists with the following pay grades may apply:
Spouses remain eligible for MyCAA assistance if their sponsor is promoted above the eligible ranks as long as they already had a plan in place prior to that promotion.
Additional eligibility requirements include:
There are several things to consider when choosing a MyCAA school or certification program. Here are our top seven.
First and foremost, you need to know what you’re after, right? No sense in making a plan unless you know what direction you want to head. You must also understand what programs MyCAA covers. The good news is that in order to take advantage of MyCAA programs, military spouses must first create a plan using the MyICP (My Individual Career Plan) tool, which helps determine goals as well as establish a road map to achieve them.
There are many things to consider when choosing a college, but for military spouses taking advantage of MyCAA programs, one of the first is to ensure that the schools you’re considering participate with MyCAA. Use this search tool to browse institutions from which you can choose.
Military families juggle quite a bit, and beginning to utilize military spouse education benefits will add a few more variables into the mix. Before you dive headfirst into your new career path, have a frank conversation with your family. In addition to explaining the advantages your new schooling will bring, discuss the potential changes that may take place, and how your family can best support you as you embark on this new chapter.
Every school and institution is known for specific subjects more than others. If possible, choose an institution with a reputation for having a strong program of study in the field you’re pursuing. This is why really digging into your ultimate goals before choosing a school or certification program is so important.
The MyCAA scholarship provides up to $4000 towards your program of choice, but that might not cover the entire cost of your schooling. What are you able to cover out of pocket, and what additional military education benefits for dependents might you be eligible for? Cost must certainly be a factor when narrowing down to your short list.
As with most everything these days, there are both “traditional” and online options. Each comes with their own set of pros and cons. In-person classes provide an experience unlike any other, especially when working in a tactile environment like a lab. And there is certainly something to be said for getting to know instructors and fellow classmates in person.
But that has to be balanced with the convenience and flexibility that come with learning in a virtual classroom, especially for adult learners with families to care for. Add to that the fact that military life comes with frequent PCS moves, and online courses might seem ideal. This is why many web-based universities participate with MyCAA programs.
As you’re trying to determine the best MyCAA programs for you, definitely dig into some reviews. This is especially important when considering online schooling options, as you won’t have the opportunity to meet other students face-to-face prior to enrolling. Take a moment to look at reviews of any school on your short list. What are their strengths? Where are they lacking? And how does that align with your needs and goals?
Military spouses are a vital part of the United States Armed Forces. They put their lives on hold for years as they support our service members and their efforts, which is why military family benefits like the MyCAA programs are so essential. If you or your military spouse are interested in taking advantage of MyCAA, visit the DoD’s Military OneSouce Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Page.