While it’s true that military spouses aren’t offered the same tuition assistance benefits as their active duty military partners are, there are funds available for the spouses and family members of active duty military members that will help with tuition costs. These funds may not be offered to military spouses to the same degree they’re offered to members of the military, but there are numerous educational programs military spouses and family members can take advantage of if they want to go back to college or vocational school.
Below are just some of the many education assistance programs offered to spouses of active duty members of the Unites States Navy:
SOCNAV - The Service Members Opportunity Colleges, or SOCNAV, is a network of colleges and universities that offer Navy spouses degree programs that guarantee the spouse can continue working towards getting their degree, even though they may be subject to several Navy transfers to bases throughout the world. Another option available through the SOCNAV program is distance learning where Navy spouses can complete all required work to get their degree without ever stepping foot in a classroom.
NMCRS - Through the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) spouses of active members of the Navy can qualify for the Spouse Tuition Aid Program. This program is made available to those spouses whose active members of the Navy are stationed overseas and want to go back to school to get a degree or vocational certificate. The spouse can choose whether he or she wants to be a full time or part time student whether they’re pursuing a college degree or a vocational certificate. For an undergraduate, NMCRS will cover up to $300 of tuition expenses each semester and up to $1,500 per academic year. If the spouse is pursuing a post graduate degree, he she can qualify for up to $350 per semester and up to $1,750 per academic year to help with tuition expenses.
VAEPTSLP - The Vice Admiral E.P. Travers Scholarship and Loan Program is available to spouses of active duty members who are enrolled as full time undergraduate students at any accredited academic institution. Each year, the program awards 1,000 grants of $2,000 each. Applicants may also qualify for a student loan of up to 3,000 with no interest. However, the student will begin repaying the loan 30 days after it’s dispersed to them and the entire loan must be paid back within two years. Qualified applicants have to apply by March 1st each year in order to be considered for the scholarship and those who apply after March 1st won’t be considered for the scholarship, but will be evaluated to possibly receive the loan.
Post 9/11 GI Bill - A special provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill allows for educational benefits for the children and spouses of service members. According to the laws governing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Department of Defense has the right to authorize anyone who’s served in the Armed Forces for at least six years, and who agrees to serve at least four more years, to transfer the money they haven’t used from their GI Bill entitlement to their spouse. And, when the enlisted member has served their tenth year, they can then transfer their unused GI Bill money to either their spouse or their child.
Other Scholarships and Grants – Much of the money set aside for scholarships and grants to active duty or veteran service members goes unclaimed simply because the people who are entitled to receive this free money to help them pay for their education just don’t know it’s available or, if they do know it’s available, they just don’t know where to find it. But, now there’s an online resource that can help service members and their families find these scholarships and grants and will also tell them where, when, and how to apply for each of them. The “Scholarship Finder” at: www.military.com has a listing of over 1,000 scholarships from a myriad of sources. If you’re interested in finding these scholarships and grants, you should start looking now as some of the larger awards have deadlines of up to a year or more in advance.
No matter what type of tuition assistance, be it scholarships, grants, or loans, you’re applying for, it’s very important you pay close attention to all the requirements for qualification as well as any deadlines you must meet or paperwork you have to turn in. One missed deadline or missing piece of paper can cost you a lot of money you could use to fund your quest to get a college degree or vocational certificate.