Getting Smart About Funding Your Education
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor
Article Sponsored by: EPES Transport
Whether you and your uniformed honey are in the transition process or not, you need to be professionally marketable. And to do so, you must have skills. It also helps if you have an education, be it in the form of an academic degree or a professional certification.
Not surprisingly, funding that marketability can be expensive, especially when you have bills to pay today or ones looming in the future. With a little bit of creative thinking, research and patience, however, you can prepare yourself for the next step in your professional careers.
Here are five resources to help you get started with funding your post-military education.
How does an education benefit of $4,000 sound to you? MyCAA pays tuition costs for education and training courses and examinations leading to an associate degree (excluding associate degrees in general studies, liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies that do not have a concentration).
The scholarship also covers the costs for obtaining a license, certificate or certification at an accredited college, university or technical school in the United States or approved testing organization that expands employment or portable career opportunities for military spouses.
If you are one of the lucky ones eligible to take advantage of this program, go for it. Being lucky, in this case, means that you are the spouse of a service member on active duty in the pay grade of E-1 to E-5, W-2 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2 who is able to start and finish the coursework while your military sponsor is on Title 10 military orders.
For more information about MyCAA, visit https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/default.aspx .
GI Bill Transferability
If your uniformed spouse isn’t interested in using his GI Bill, he may be able to transfer it to you (or to your children). Like any good deal, there is a catch. You have to meet certain criteria, including one of the following scenarios:
-Your service member has to have at least six years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, and he/she must agree to serve four additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
-Your service member has to have at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
-Your service member has to be retirement-eligible and agree to serve an additional four years of service on or after Aug. 1, 2012.
Any requests to transfer this educational benefit must be submitted and approved while the service member is still in the armed forces.
For more information, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_transfer.asp .
You might think that scholarships don’t apply to you if you’re not fresh out of high school, but that’s not the case. Take the time to answer the few questions at www.fastweb.com and you may find that you’re eligible to apply for scholarships targeted to your situation.
Scholarship information can also be found through your family service center or through the education center on the military installation nearest you. In addition to school-specific offerings, each service branch has various programs available that could help you to fund that degree or credential you seek.
Grants are a desirable option because they are funds granted to you that you are not obligated to pay back. Competition for grants can be stiff, but that shouldn’t stop you from applying for them.
Check out www.collegegrant.net to access leads to government, federal Pell and state grants across multiple occupational series. Other sites to check out include http://www.collegescholarships.org/grants/ and https://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships .
Debt is something you want to minimize when you’re trying to get ahead. But sometimes a small investment in your education can have a big return when you graduate in the form of a better paying job. There are a number of good resources to assist you in understanding the differences between good loans and bad ones, such as www.simpletuition.com and https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/loans/quick-guide-which-college-loans-are-best .
Take your time, research and enjoy your new life.
Janet Farley is a careers and workplace strategist and the author of “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps for Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Inc, 2013). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide.
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