The G.I. Bill is well known for providing military personnel and their dependents with the funding to continue or advance their education. Not surprisingly, the G.I. Bill is also the most highly utilized veteran education benefit. A lesser known, but highly beneficial program, the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), was designed with similar aspirational goals in mind, but with one major difference; MyCAA is intended solely for military spouses and supports them in developing a portable career.
Offering up to $4,000 in tuition assistance for eligible spouses to pursue an associate degree, professional certification, or license, MyCAA is an initiative offered through the Department of Defense.
The program has historically been underutilized, partially due to lack of knowledge about the program. According to a 2015 Rand Corporation analysis of the program, only 20 percent of military spouses used the MyCAA scholarship and over half of the spouses who didn’t use the program reported they were unaware the program existed.
With military spouses encountering significant employment hurdles while navigating frequent moves, living in remote duty locations, and often serving as the sole parent during deployments, MyCAA can provide the financial edge for a spouse to pursue a portable career field and ultimately ease the transition process during frequent moves.
If MyCAA is new to you, or you’ve never considered its benefits, here are the fast facts on what the program offers.
What Is MyCAA?
Sponsored by the Department of Defense, the MyCAA program is designed to advance portable careers for spouses by providing tuition assistance for training in hundreds of career fields and skilled trades. The scholarship can be used to pay for a license, certificate, certification, or associate degree, all with the ultimate goal of equipping spouses to launch an in-demand career with growth opportunities.
Tuition assistance can be used to cover approved courses at accredited colleges, universities, technical schools, or approved testing organizations in the United States. Applicants can search for participating schools and programs on the MyCAA portal.
How Does It Work?
MyCAA provides a maximum tuition benefit of $4,000 with an annual cap of $2,000 for military spouses to gain professional credentials to expand their employment opportunities. Funds are paid directly to the school or training program through an electronic payment system and no money changes hands between MyCAA and the participating spouse. An annual cap waiver is available if the licensure or certificate program requires an upfront tuition cost of more than $2,000, up to the total benefit maximum of $4,000.
MyCAA does have some restrictions on how the money can be used, specifically listing the types of courses and expenses that are not covered under the program. MyCAA does not cover advanced degrees such as an undergraduate or graduate program. Other ineligible expenses include supplies such as books, computers, and uniforms.
To apply for the program, spouses must first create an account at the MyCAA Scholarship Spouse Portal online. Applicants establish a profile and prove their eligibility, and then need to create an Education & Training Plan, which will be reviewed for approval.
Once the military spouse is approved for MyCAA, he or she can request financial assistance for the approved course of study and begin training.
Who Is Eligible to Participate in MyCAA?
Those eligible for the scholarship must be:
The spouse of service member in one of the following pay grades: E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, or O-1 to O-2.
Able to complete the education coursework while their spouse is on active-duty Title 10 orders.
Currently, MyCAA is not available for:
Spouses married to a members of the Coast Guard
Spouses of National Guard or Reserve members whose status is in a Warning Orders/Alert, Post Deployment/Demobilization, or Transition status
Spouses who are legally separated from their service member
Given that the majority of military spouses face unique employment challenges related to the military lifestyle, the MyCAA program is particularly important for offering these spouses a resource to remain competitive in the workforce, where previously they may have struggled to maintain or develop their career.