What Military Spouses Need to Know About MyCAA
If you are a military spouse looking for help paying for your degree, you will want to learn about the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA) and find out if you are eligible.
New Updates on the MYCAA Program
Some exciting news when it comes to the MYCAA program. MYCAA stands for the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship. MYCAA is a program that will give you up to $4,000 of tuition assistance for your education, broken up as $2,000 per year for two years.
The FY20 National Defense Authorization Act expands the MYCAA program. This is great news because before, spouses were limited to what they could study under the program. With this change, military spouses can pursue any license, certification, or associate’s degree to pursue any occupation or career.
Military spouses, school and a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) career coach will need to work together to define a clear career path for the military spouse. This plan is called an education and training plan and it will need to be completed in order to receive the funds from MYCAA.
Before this change, MYCAA could only be used toward 13 defined fields and 170 careers. Which limited what you could study or the path you could follow. Now there will be a lot more room to pursue what you really want to pursue.
The rank qualifications of MYCAA have not changed. Your sponsor still needs to be in the pay grades of either E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2.
However, under the new law, spouses will remain eligible for the financial assistance if their sponsor is promoted above the eligible ranks as long as they have initiated the process and have an approved education and training plan in place. This means if a military spouse of an E-5 starts a program, and six months in her spouse promotes to an E-6, they can still continue to use MYCAA.
What Does MyCAA Provide If I Qualify?
This workplace development program will give you up to $4,000 of tuition assistance for your education. However, this is broken up as $2,000 per year for two years.
Who is the MyCAA Program For?
ALL Military Spouses?
No, not all. This is who qualifies:
- You have to be a spouse of an active duty service member with a rank of:
- E-1 to E-5
- W-1 to W-2
- O-1 to O-2
- If your spouse promotes above the eligibility ranks after you have started the program, with an approved education and training plan in place, you will remain eligible.
- You must have completed high school
- Your spouse needs to be on Title 10 orders
- National Guard and Reservist spouses in these pay grades are eligible while their spouse is on active duty
Do National Guard Spouses Qualify for MyCAA?
Yes, but your spouse has to be activated on Title 10 orders. If they are not, you do not qualify.
If your spouse deploys, you can then take advantage of MyCAA and go to school.
What Are Title 10 Orders?
Title 10 of the US Code outlines the role of the armed forces. Legally, this means being on “active full-time service” as opposed to part-time status like you are a lot of the time in the National Guard or the Reserves.
If Legally Separated From My Service Member, Do I Qualify for MyCAA?
No, you would no longer qualify if you are legally separated.
What About Coast Guard Spouses?
Unfortunately, Coast Guard spouses do not qualify. Those from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps do.
What MyCAA Pays For:
MyCAA will pay for your tuition for:
- Associates degrees
- Obtaining a license
- Obtaining a certificate or certification
- As of January 2020, you can now pursue any occupation or career and are no longer limited to defined fields or careers.
- An approved testing organization that expands employment or portable career opportunities for military spouses.
- Under the FY2001 NDAA, it can now be used at any approved institution to help with the cost of national tests for course credits required for a degree approved under the program. This includes the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.
Is There Anything MyCAA Doesn’t Pay For?
You can’t use MyCAA for books, supplies, equipment, uniforms, computers, or electronic devices.
- Tuition for courses and examinations not included in the spouse’s Education and Training Plan and courses already started or completed by the spouse
- Reimbursements of any kind
- Books, supplies, equipment, uniforms, computers, and electronic devices of any kind
- Student activities, events, and entertainment
- Prepayment or deposits for future courses, unless costs are part of a block of study
- School or college level entrance examinations, comprehensive exams, and related preparatory courses
- Courses, tests, or fees normally paid by an employer as part of a job training program
- Fees of any kind, including but not limited to registration fees, technology fees, parking fees, etc.
- Nonacademic credit or ungraded courses, including courses taken on an audit basis or as an internship, practicum, apprenticeship, or clinical supervision; also, nonacademic credit or ungraded orientation programs
- Courses taken more than one time, unless the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship has received a full refund from the school
- Academic credit by examination
- General studies, liberal arts and interdisciplinary associate degrees that do not have a concentration
- Personal enrichment courses, excluding academic credit or graded electives in the spouse’s Education and Training Plan
- Transportation, lodging, child care, and medical services
- Course extensions, except for approved hardship waivers
- Study-abroad programs, excluding programs of study offered by participating My Career Advancement Account Scholarship schools on overseas military installations
- Private licenses. For example, a private pilot’s license would not be covered because it is for recreational use, but a commercial pilot’s license would be covered because it would be used for an occupation.
- High school completion programs, including online high school completion programs
- Continuing education credits to maintain a standing in a professional organization
For further reference, please make sure to check out this PDF.
How to Sign Up for MyCAA
Head over to the MyCAA Scholarship Spouse Portal Online. There will be a DEERS eligibility check to confirm if you meet the requirements or not. If you do, you can establish your MyCAA account.
Will I Receive $4,000 a Year?
No, there is an annual cap of $2,000 per fiscal year. However, there are spending cap waivers if the program you want to do is more than that per year.
If your license or certificate program upfront cost is more than $2,000, you should be able to receive that waiver.
Can I Use MyCAA at Any School?
How Soon Should I Start the Process?
Allow 2 months.
You should submit your education and training plan for approval at least 2 months before you would want to start the program.
What Happens If I’m Not Approved?
You will get a message from the system letting you know why you were not approved as well as the required steps to take to get approved if that is possible.
What If MyCAA Cannot Cover All of My Education?
Often times MyCAA can’t pay for all of your education. Make sure you also apply for FAFSA, which is the application for federal student aid.
You can also look into transferring your spouse’s Post 9/11 GI Bill to you. Additionally, there are many scholarships you can apply for that are specific for military spouses.
How Do I Get Help With All of This?
Although this seems a bit complicated, once you figure out more about the program and the steps you have to take to apply, you will find that MyCAA is going to be one of the best ways to find money for college as a military spouse.
To get started with MYCAA, you can call Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647 or visit their website. With these changes, more military spouses should be able to work towards their own careers during military life.
- Military Spouse’s Guide to Going Back to School
- College Scholarships for Military Spouses
- MyCAA: Highest Paying Careers Without a 4-Year Degree
- There is a New Update to MyCAA
- Scholarships for Veterans