As all military spouses know, it’s tough to hold down a stable career when you move around frequently. But as long as your partner is an Active Duty military member, those Permanent Change of Stations aren’t going to stop… which means it’s up to you to adapt your career plans around constant moves.
For many, starting a career that works around a busy schedule means additional training to earn a certification or gain a new skillset. Continuing your education isn’t always free though. And finding the time to learn is tough if you have little ones at home or hold a part time job.
Luckily, the Department of Defense recognized this dilemma and stepped up to help you further your career through a program called MyCAA!
What is MyCAA and how do I qualify?
Offered through the DoD’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarship is what’s known as a workforce development program. Its benefit is simple — it gives qualified military spouses up to $4,000 in tuition assistance, which they can apply to a variety of adult education programs aimed at helping them get ready for a good-paying portable career. So, who qualifies for the money and who doesn’t? Primarily, MyCAA was made for spouses of junior Active Duty, Guard, or Reserve members on Title 10 orders, within the pay grades of:
- E-1 to E-5
- W-1 to W-2
- O-1 to O-2
If this is you, you will need to have finished high school to request tuition assistance.
Spouses who don’t qualify include legally separated spouses, spouses under a state court order, Coast Guard spouses, and Guard or Reserve spouses whose sponsor is on warning orders, alert, post-deployment, demobilization, or transition.
What does the My Career Advancement Account scholarship pay for?
Per the program brochure, MyCAA pays:
- “…tuition costs for education and training courses and examinations leading to an associate degree, excluding associate degrees in general studies, liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies that do not have a concentration.”
Great, but what about spouses who aren’t doing an associate degree? Don’t worry, MyCAA also pays for:
- “…costs for obtaining a license, certificate or certification at an accredited college, university or technical school in the United States or approved testing organization that expands employment or portable career opportunities for military spouses.”
In addition, MyCAA also covers the cost of:
- “…tests and preparatory courses of study that lead directly to a recognized professional, state, regional or national occupational license or certification.”
Clearly MyCAA is very explicit about what it will pay for, but what will it not pay for? The complete list is long and detailed, but a few things it doesn’t cover are: books, supplies, equipment, uniforms, electronic devices, activities or events, prepayments or deposits, college level entrance exams, reimbursements, fees, employer training, personal enrichment classes, study abroad, child care, private licenses, high school equivalency programs, or lodging, to name just a few!
What types of jobs can I train for using MyCAA?
There are numerous career options available to use the scholarship on, such as:
- Animal (or Veterinary) Services
- Automotive and Transportation Services
- Business and Finance Administration
- Health and Human Services
- Information Technology
- Skills Trades
These occupations all fit into what is called a portable career, which means a career that can travel with you.
How does the MyCAA scholarship work?
Spouses sign up by creating an account on the secure MyCAA website, using DS Logon credentials. To obtain this login, qualified spouses will need to be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Once you’re logged into MyCAA, you’ll set up a profile and go through the easy online steps to establish an Education and Training Plan.
This plan covers your specific career goals, which classes you want to take, and information about the institution where you want to take them. Within 10 business days of submitting your plan, you should get an answer back saying if it was approved.
Once approved, you’ll request the financial assistance for the classes, and MyCAA does the rest! They will send your tuition to the school, so you never have to bother with that part.
How much does MyCAA pay?
The MyCAA tuition assistance amount is capped at $2,000 per fiscal year, but waivers can be requested in situations where a licensure or certificate program has a large upfront cost. The maximum benefit, as mentioned, is $4,000. Spouses can spread the benefit over the course of three years, if needed.
So, what do you think? Is MyCAA legit? Absolutely! Is MyCAA worth it? It is if you want free money invested directly into your education, so you can pursue a portable career that you love!
In fact, even spouses who don’t qualify for the scholarship can still take advantage of free career counseling. For more information about getting started with MyCAA, fill out this form or give us a call at (855) 520-6806.