Earning a college degree is hard enough, but for military spouses, paying for an education can seem downright impossible. With a spouse in the military, you’re likely moving all the time, taking care of a family on your own, and struggling to find a steady job after moving – again.
The good news is, there are scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid that cater to military spouses in hopes of giving you one less thing to stress about.
Here, we’re going to go over what to consider before you start applying to military spouse scholarships, list of some of the best financial aid available to military spouses, and share other resources for military spouses that could be helpful.
Provided by either the military itself, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations, there are a lot more options than you’d think, so stick around.
Before You Start
Before applying to a scholarship for military spouses, there are few things to get in order. Just a bit of planning and organization will make the process a lot less painful.
- Read all of the criteria. This may seem obvious but it’s important not to skim over the details. Reading everything thoroughly will give you an understanding of what’s required so that you can make arrangements for more time-consuming necessities like letters of recommendation.
- Make a to-do list and set reminders. Scholarship applications have strict deadlines and you’ll kick yourself for missing a big opportunity. As you go over the criteria, take notes and set reminders in your phone to make sure you get everything in on time.
- Gather information. From there, it’s all about gathering the documents, maybe writing some quick essays, and punching in your information. Many scholarships will ask for the same criteria so creating a document full of everything you’ll need is smart so you can copy and paste for each application, saving you time and energy.
Now, let’s get into some military spouse scholarships you could qualify for.
Education Assistance Programs for Military Service Members and Dependents
Within each branch of the military, there are assistance programs for military spouses. Offering interest-free loans and specialized grants, here are some examples of what you might be able to take advantage of:
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grant
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program
- Army Emergency Relief Spouse Education Assistance Program
- Air Force Aid Society
- Coast Guard Foundation
Of course, scholarships and grants are going to be the most lucrative form of financial aid available, but looking into loans offered by your spouse’s military branch are also extremely viable solutions to paying for college.
Scholarship Programs for Military Spouses
There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a military spouse scholarship program that works with your circumstances. Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships to military spouses such as:
- My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program, or MyCAA
- National Military Family Association
- ThanksUSA Special Military Spouse Scholarship
- National Association for Uniformed Services Scholarship
- Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program
- Florida Advisory Council on Military Education Scholarship (for Florida residents/those stationed in Florida)
- Southeastern Council on Military Education Scholarship (for NC, SC, GA, or AL residents)
- Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship
Typically, these scholarships award prizes between $500 and $1500. If you’re eligible for more than one of these scholarships, you can cover a lot of your educational expenses by applying for as many of them as possible.
Military Veteran Spouse Scholarships
If your spouse is no longer serving active duty, you may still qualify for a military veteran spouse scholarship. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers financial assistance programs for a spouse’s education including:
- The GI Bill
- The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship
- OurMilitary.com Bi-Annual Veteran Recognition Scholarship
- The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program
- American Military Partner Association Scholarship
Many spouses of veterans might assume that they missed their chance to get help with funding their education but the options above prove that it’s never too late. So, if you’re thinking about going back to school and your spouse once served in the military, give it a shot.
More Financial Aid Tips for Military Spouses
Once you’ve explored all of the military spouse college scholarship programs offered by the military, you should explore other more generalized options for financial aid including Federal Student Aid, state aid, and private scholarships.
National spouse clubs like the Navy Wives of America also offer scholarships for military spouses, and check in with your local base or spouse’s club for more information on other scholarship opportunities specifically in your area.
Other Resources for Military Spouses
If you already have an education but you’re still looking for additional resources as a military spouse, you still have options. For example:
- The Military Spouse Preference Program: With their help, you can be eligible for preferential treatment when applying for civilian jobs within the Department of Defense.
- Transferring Professional Licenses: Moving around a lot can make it difficult to transfer professional licenses from state to state. The Defense-State Liaison Office has streamlined this process to make it easier for military spouses to do so and you can apply for a $500 re-licensure reimbursement if the office doesn’t help.
- Unemployment Benefits: If the process of finding a job due to your status as a military spouse proves tougher than you thought, your state’s unemployment office can offer funding in some cases.
As you can see, there are a lot of wonderful benefits that military spouses are eligible for.
It does take time to do the research and can require a bit of effort when gathering information, letters of recommendation, and thoughtful essays, but overall, these are opportunities that shouldn’t be taken for granted.