Completing an education is hard enough without having to stress about how to pay for it. If you have a military affiliation and are thinking about college (or are already working on a degree), you’re in luck. Organizations have stepped up to offer education assistance to offset the cost of tuition and fees.
Yes, that’s right. There are programs — scholarships, loans, and grants — designed with you in mind. But it’s going to take some work and a lot of organization.
Please note: If no deadline is indicated, it means the application period for 2021 has ended and you should check back during the same timeframe in 2022.
A few things to consider ahead of time:
- Read all of the criteria early so that you can plan for any time-consuming requirements, like letters of recommendation.
- Create reminders for deadlines so that you don’t miss any important dates.
Here is the latest list of financial aid offerings from around the military community:
National Military Family Association
What’s the basics: Awards available for career funding, degrees, clinical supervision towards licensure in the mental health profession, and business expenses.
Army Emergency Relief
Link (for spouses): https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/scholarships/spouse/
What’s the basics: The Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program is a need-based scholarship program established to assist Army spouses in obtaining an undergraduate degree or similar professional certification.
Deadline: None. Spouses can apply year-round and must re-apply each year.
MyCAA (My Career Advancement Account)
Who’s eligible: Under Title 10 orders spouses of service members with pay grades of E-1 through E-5, W-1 through W-2, O-1 through O-2.
What’s the basics: Maximum tuition assistance benefit of $4,000 to be used toward an associate degree, license, or certification.
Deadline: Rolling basis.
BRANCH AID SOCIETIES
Each service branch has an equivalent branch aid society that supports service members and their families through various programs – including education assistance.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
Who’s eligible: Spouses of active duty or retired sailors and Marines.
The basics: Interest-free loans and grants for undergraduates at an accredited 2- or 4-year education, technical or vocational institution.
Deadline: Applications and all supporting documents are to be postmarked no later than June 1.
Air Force Aid Society
Who’s eligible: Spouses of active duty and Title 10 Reservists, and widows.
The basics: Needs-based grant ranging from $500 – $4,000.
Deadline: April 30.
Army Emergency Relief (for military kids)
Link (for military kids): https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/scholarships/child/
What’s the basics: The MG James Ursano Scholarship Program is a need-based scholarship program established to assist children of Army soldiers in obtaining their first undergraduate degree.
Deadline: April 1 at midnight EDT.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Who’s eligible: Spouses of Coast Guardsmen.
What’s the basics: Loans and grants for a degree, license, or certification.
Details: Programs include Stafford/PLUS loan fee reimbursement, education loans, Stafford/PLUS Loan Fee Reimbursement, Supplemental Education Grants, and Tutor.com availability. You may be eligible for more than one program, so make copies of your application so it can be easily submitted to other programs.
Deadline: Rolling basis.
Modern Military Association of America
The basics: Two military spouses will be awarded between $3,000 – $5,000.
Deadline: March 1.
The basics: Scholarships awarded to spouses and military kids may be used for a first-time undergraduate study at an accredited 2-year or 4-year college, university, or accredited vocational, technical, or trade school program.
Details: Scholarships are $3,000.
Deadline: April 15.
Folds of Honor
Who’s eligible: Any dependent or spouse of a military service member with a current military ID.
The basics: Scholarship awards are for up to $5,000, not to exceed $2,500 per term.
Details: March 1. You must be enrolled or plan to enroll in a 2-year or 4-year accredited college or university.
Pat Tillman Foundation
Who’s eligible: Veteran and active-duty military service members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces including the National Guard who have served in both pre-and post-9/11 eras.
The basics: $10,000 scholarship to assist with academic expenses, such as tuition, fees, and books.
Deadline: February 28.
FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship
The basics: Current spouses or surviving spouses of a uniformed service member; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, (Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve, or retirees) entitled to DEERS card possession or eligibility.
Details: The fellowship provides military spouses the opportunity to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor® certification.
Deadline: April 19.
Hope For The Warriors
Link to receive an application (click apply for services): https://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/
The basics: Five different categories of scholarships will be awarded between $1,500 – $2,500.
Details: Applications for fall 2021 will be accepted starting March 1, 2021.
Deadline: April 30.
Air Force Association
Who’s eligible: Eligibility is dependent on scholarship opportunity. There are scholarships available for Air Force and Space Force active duty, retired, veterans, spouses, and children.
The basics: The Air Force Association scholarships are provided by “caring organizations and individuals [to] help students pursue their dreams of higher education with generous grants. These programs exemplify the lifelong bond of Airmen and the commitment of our supporting community.”
Details: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts through the Air Force Association. Visit their website for a full list and links to each application.
Deadline: April 30.
Folded Flag Foundation
Who’s eligible: Spouses and children of the U.S. military and government personnel who died as a result of hostile action or in an accident related to U.S. combat operations.
The basics: Scholarships and grants are available to qualifying spouses of fallen heroes and their children under the age of 26 to help provide a pathway to success by covering a wide range of living expenses and educational needs, from kindergarten to college/trade school.
Details: There are scholarship opportunities available for children in grades K-12 as well as adults in higher education and trade school.
Deadline: May 15.
Association of the United States Army
Who’s eligible: Eligibility is dependent on scholarship opportunity. There are scholarships available for U.S. Army active duty, retired, veterans, spouses, and children.
The basics: The Association of the United States Army offers several different scholarship opportunities for active duty, retired, veteran, National Guard, and reserve service members as well as spouses and children. Different scholarship opportunities are available including those in STEM programs, dental programs, and more.
Details: Multiple scholarships are available for varying amounts through AUSA. Visit their website for a full list and links to each application. Applicants must hold an active AUSA membership for some scholarships.
Who’s eligible: Any military child whose parent(s) are serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces can apply. Students must be enrolled or plan to enroll in a full-time undergraduate program that is leading to a bachelor’s degree or a junior college that is designed to directly transfer to a four-year program. High school applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and college applications much have a minimum GPA of 2.5.
The basics: The Fisher House, in partnership with the Defense Commissary Agency, gives a total of 500 scholarships, awarded at $2,000 each, to eligible military children. At least one recipient is selected for each commissary location where qualified applications are received. You do not have to have a commissary in your direct location — simply chose the one that is closest to you.
Deadline: Closed. Check back in December.
LOCAL SPOUSE CLUBS
There are dozens of clubs that support military spouses around the world. (Yes, we said world – including OCONUS locations). These organizations are a place of camaraderie for spouses, but also participate in philanthropic activities like scholarships and charitable giving. At the start of each new year, the clubs usually open up applications for scholarship programs with specific eligibility requirements. Some require applicants to be a member and some do not.
How to find them: A simple internet search of your installation and the phrase ‘military spouse club’ should produce results. Also, the club may be officer, enlisted, or combined.
TIP: Local spouse clubs typically open applications in December/January.
National Guard Bureau Spouses’ Club
The basics: The applicant’s parent, spouse, or guardian must be an individual, either officer, enlisted, or civilian, affiliated with the National Guard Bureau (NGB) in the VA / MD / DC area.
Deadline: March 28.