There are several education benefits available to dependents of veterans as well as surviving family members of deceased veterans. Ranging from scholarships to totally free school, these benefits are often overlooked.
Department of Defense
Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferability
There is a special provision of the program that allows military members to share their remaining GI Bill (education) benefits with immediate family members. The key factor is whether or not the member has used any of their GI Bill in the past; only unused benefits can be transferred. This means that if they used 12 months of their GI Bill, then they can only transfer the remaining 24 months of benefits.
Service members must meet specific criteria to be eligible to transfer their GI Bill benefits. This includes having at least six years of service and an obligation to serve at least four more.
Learn more about the rules for transferring GI Bill benefits.
Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)
The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program provides up to $4,000 of Financial Assistance for military spouses who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields.
Spouses can contact MilitaryOneSource for education counseling and help to find alternative funding sources. Call toll free at: 800.342.9647.
Click here to learn more about the MyCAA Career Advancement Accounts program.
Learn more about Spouse Employment opportunities and programs.
Related: Southern New Hampshire University offers up to 30% off tuition for active duty military and their spouses. Learn more.
Dependents Education Assistance Program
The Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. The program offers up to 36 months of education benefits. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship and on-the-job training. Remedial, deficiency and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
Learn more about the Dependents Education Assistance Program.
Marine GySgt John D. Fry Scholarship Program
The Fry Scholarship is a program similar to the Post-9/11 GI Bill that makes education benefits available to the surviving spouses and children of service members who die in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. Like Post-9/11 veterans, eligible surviving spouses and children attending school may receive full tuition coverage at state-operated colleges and universities, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance under this program.
Surviving spouses can use the Fry Scholarship for 15 years from the anniversary of the service member's death or until they remarry. Eligible children can use the Fry Scholarship between the ages of 18 and 33. Children under age 18 cannot use this benefit even if they have completed high school. The child's marital status does not affect eligibility for the Fry Scholarship.
Learn more about the Marine GySgt John D. Fry Scholarship Program.
State Provided Education Benefits
Educational benefits for families, particularly the children of deceased, MIA, POW and disabled veterans, may be available in some states.
Click here to learn more about State Veteran Education Benefits.
Scholarships and Grants
While looking for money for school many spouses and their families overlook the over $300 million of military - and veteran - related scholarships and grants. These scholarships often go unclaimed.
Not applying for scholarships is like turning down free money.
Many organizations also offer scholarships for military children and spouses.
Army Emergency Relief (AER)
Army Emergency Relief maintains two scholarship programs – the Spouse Education Assistance Program and the MG James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Both scholarships provide financial assistance for students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree.
Visit the Army Emergency Relief site for more details.
Air Force Resources
Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)
The AFAS offers grants, scholarships and loans:
- General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program - This need-based grant program offers grants of at least $2,000 to selected children and spouses of active duty, retired and deceased active duty and some reserve Air Force members.
- AFAS Merit Scholarship - The Society awards a minimum of ten $5,000 merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen who have completed both phases of the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant application, and therefore, have already been reviewed for eligibility and had their GPA verified. Selection is based on cumulative GPA, SAT/ACT scores, transcripts and an essay on a specified topic.
- Supplemental Education Loan Program - This loan is open only to dependents of regular Active Duty, some reservists and retired members who applied for the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant. The maximum dollar amount is $1,000.
Visit the Air Force Aid Society to learn more.
Navy and Marine Corps Resources
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)
The NMCRS Education Assistance Program offers interest-free loans and grants for colleges or voc/tech schools in the US. The program is available for children of active duty, retired or deceased sailors and marines; and for spouses of active duty and retired sailors and marines.
Visit the NMCRS site for more details
Coast Guard resources
The Coast Guard Foundation
The Coast Guard Foundation offers grants for active duty enlisted members and their spouses, it also offers scholarships to children of active duty, retired or deceased enlisted members.
- Grants for spouses of active-duty enlisted members - These grants are open to spouses of active-duty enlisted personnel, and spouses of some reservists. Grants are for $500.
- Scholarships for Coast Guard children - These scholarships are open to unmarried dependent children of enlisted active duty members, reservists on extended active duty for 180 days or more, retirees, or deceased members. Applicants must be college-bound high school seniors entering a college or technical school for the fall semester or a full-time undergraduate student already enrolled in an accredited four-year undergraduate program or technical school.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)
- Supplemental Education Grant - The SEG program reimburses documented educational costs specifically required by a course of study. Multiple grants may be awarded up to the authorized amount throughout the calendar year.
- CGMA Stafford/PLUS Loan Fee Reimbursement - Assistance for those who finance post-secondary education through the Federal Stafford Loan or Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). CGMA reimburses clients for the loan fee (not to exceed 4% of the loan amount) typically charged borrowers at the time funds are disbursed.
- CGMA Education Loan - An interest-free loan (up to $2,000) to help with post-secondary education expenses.
Visit the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance website to learn more.
Find More Military-Friendly Scholarships
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