Many military spouses put their own post-secondary education, and ultimately their career goals, on the back burner because they do not want to put an additional financial burden on, what for many military families, is an already frail and fragile budget. But don’t let finances be the hurdle that prevents you from furthering your education.

Some marriages do not withstand the rigors of serving in the military. If that happens to you, how will you support yourself and your family? Many military families struggle month to month to make ends meet. But what if you could get a good paying job that would bring in more disposable income each month? Most importantly, military spouses should not have to put their careers on hold because of frequent moves. With online programs now offered by most public universities, you only need a computer and an internet connection to keep working on your education regardless of your physical location.

All of these (and more) are reasons why you should pursue your education goals now instead of “waiting for the right time”- which in many cases never seems to happen. With the resources now available, you can get the education you want without accumulating much, if any, additional debt.

Post 9/11 GI Bill

If your spouse has been serving for at least six years and agreed to serve an additional four years, s/he can transfer part of or all of their Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement to you. It alone can pay up to 36 months (four 9-month years) of tuition and fees at a public university. Plus, military spouses get up to $1,000 per year in book stipend to help pay for books and supplies.


If your serving spouse is an E1 through E-5 enlisted, a W1 or W2 warrant officer, or an O1 or O2 commissioned officer, they most likely have not served enough time yet for them to make a transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. But you can still start on your education by using the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program (MyCAA). Under it, spouses can get up to $4,000 and have three years to use it toward an associate degree, license, certification or certificate in one of the approved portable career fields.

Combine Resources

There are a lot of ways to mix and match resources. For example, one way would be to get an associate’s degree under MyCAA. You could use future Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits to finish your bachelor’s degree. If you had received 36 months of transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement, you  would have enough left after finishing your bachelor’s degree to start working on a graduate degree.

Scholarships and Grants

These sources of financial assistance are great to use because they do not have to be paid back. Most of the military branches have a program that includes education assistance for spouses:

  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Interest-free loans and grants for undergraduates at an accredited 2- or 4-year education, technical or vocational institution.
  • Air Force Aid Society. Needs-based grant ranging from $500 – $4000.
  • Army Emergency Relief. Need-based scholarship program for spouses pursuing their first undergraduate degree.
  • Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. Loans and grants for a degree, license or certification.

Plus there are literally thousands of other scholarships and grants offered by private organizations, colleges themselves military spouse clubs.

As a military spouse with the right education and a clean record, jobs and careers requiring a security clearance are also open to you. Once hired, a company will sponsor to get you a clearance at the needed level.

Don’t put off your education for another year. Start now and achieve your career goals, too!

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.