Do You Qualify for a Scholarship?
One way that the United States government pays back our vets is through help with college tuition. If you have served or are currently serving in the military, you are making a great sacrifice that should be honored in a multitude of ways. Many times, recruiting officers will entice recruits with the promise of free college tuition after serving for a specified number of years. These programs vary but are a great way for military vets and their families to obtain their educations. Let's take a look at some military spouse scholarships.
1. College Grants for Military Vets
One university that offers multiple programs is the American Military University (AMU). To be considered for AMU, you must be on active duty, a Guard member, a Reservist, a military spouse or dependent or a veteran. The grant offered by AMU includes a “tuition grant that caps undergraduate tuition at $250/credit hour and graduate tuition at $325/credit hour.” A regular state-sponsored university will cost anywhere from $300-600 per credit hour.
According to Military.com, veterans can also apply for Federal Pell Grants, which are primarily based on financial need, the cost of attending your college of choice and whether you are a full-time or part-time student (part-time students are eligible). The top grants awarded in the 2018-2019 academic year peaked at over $6,000.
2. Military Spouse Education Programs
As stated above, AMU offers the same benefits to military spouses as it does for active duty or veteran servicemen and servicewomen. However, according to Military OneSource, “The My Career Advancement Account Scholarship program (MCAA) provides up to $4,000 of assistance to eligible military spouses pursuing a license, certification or associate degree in a portable career field and occupation.” Spouses can choose between a certificate program to a doctorate degree.
One of the programs considered portable is a nursing degree. Nursing degrees for military spouses are covered by the above-mentioned MCAA program, and multiple universities work with military spouses that transfer locations frequently.
Also, per Military.com, spouses or other family members can sometimes access unused GI Bill benefits. The GI Bill gives veterans 36 months of financial aid for college. If the veteran only uses 12 months of benefits, the remaining 24 months can be transferred to a spouse or other family member for their education.
3. Retired Military Spouse Education Benefits
Once you are no longer on active duty, your spouse is still eligible for benefits, including the MCAA. But there are also a plethora of scholarship opportunities out there that many vets and their families don’t know about. Here are some military spouse scholarships to look into:
National Military Family Association Military Spouse Scholarships
$500 for career aid, $1,000 for degree-seeking candidates
Available to military spouses with valid ID. You must be married to a service member (either active duty, a Reservist, National Guard member, wounded or fallen, medically retired or dual service).
Pat Tillman Foundation
Average award: $10,000
To qualify, spouses of either active duty or veteran service members must be enrolled full-time in a degree program. This award is reserved for spouses pursuing a baccalaureate, graduate or professional degree.
ThanksUSA Scholarships for Military Dependents and Spouses
$3,000 for education expenses
To qualify, you must be the spouse of a full-time service member having served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001. All branches, Reservists and activated National Guard members’ spouses are eligible, as well as spouses of retired and discharged service members.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
Interest-free loans and grants between $500 and $3,000
This award can only be used at an accredited 2- or 4-year technical or vocational college. You must be married to an active duty or retired sailor or marine. You must be a full-time student and the award can be applied to tuition, fees, books and room and board.
These are just a few of the options for scholarships designated for spouses. While some of them are branch-specific, others are available to any family with a service history.
4. Online Colleges for Military Spouses
Just as there are dozens upon dozens of online schools available to the general public, some universities offer special financial aid and other support for military spouses.
Topping the list is Purdue Global. The University offers a tuition cap of $220 per credit hour and boasts a current military enrollment of more than 8,000 students.
The University of Maryland University College is also very military-friendly and has been awarded several accolades for its collaboration with military students:
- Military Times ranked UMUC No. 1 Best for Vets in its 2018 survey of online and nontraditional colleges and universities.
- Military Advanced Education & Transition named UMUC a Top School in its 2018 Guide to Colleges & Universities.
- U.S. Veterans Magazine ranked UMUC among the Best of the Best: Top Veteran-Friendly Schools in 2017.
- The World Affairs Council named UMUC the 2015 Educator of the Year.
Liberty University is an outstanding institution where military students, retired service members and military spouses get significantly discounted tuition, and the Heroes Fund Scholarship is offered to qualified former and current military service members.
5. National Military Family Association (NMFA)
The National Military Family Association (NMFA) Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program is designed to assist military spouses in pursuing their educational goals. Here are some more details about this scholarship program:
- Eligibility: The scholarship is open to military spouses who hold a valid military ID (active duty, reserve, National Guard, retired or deceased) and are currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited program for an undergraduate or graduate degree. Spouses pursuing professional certifications are also eligible.
- Application process: Interested applicants need to submit an online application through the NMFA website during the designated application period. The application typically requires personal information, transcripts, a written essay and documentation of the military sponsor's service.
- Selection criteria: Scholarships are awarded based on a combination of factors, including financial need, academic achievements, community involvement and the applicant's response to the essay question. A committee reviews the applications and selects the recipients.
- Scholarship amount: The NMFA Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program provides funding of up to $1,000 for tuition, fees and books. The exact amount awarded may vary based on available funds and the number of applicants selected.
- Renewability: The scholarship is renewable, allowing recipients to reapply and potentially receive funding for subsequent years of their educational program. Renewal applications typically require updated transcripts and a progress report.
Being the spouse of either active-duty or retired military personnel gives you a unique opportunity for funding sources should you choose to pursue a degree.