This Back to School season looks a lot different. Whether your military family is in a fully-remote school environment part of a hybrid model, the cost of educating kids at home can add up. If you are facing financial hardship as a result of pandemic-related school costs, the service aid societies might be able to help.
Army Emergency Relief
Army Emergency Relief (AER) offers a Home School and Remote Education Assistance Program to help families of K-12 students and undergraduates cover costs associated with traditional, full-time homeschool as well as remote education due to COVID-19. The assistance program can be used to offset the costs of traditional school supplies and educational technology including computers, tablets, and software.
This financial assistance can be a grant, zero-interest loan, or combination of both, depending on your budget. The usual $500 assistance cap has been removed for now and requests over $1500 require special review. There are no restrictions on the number of requests a family can make. The eligibility period is retroactive to March 1, 2020 and will continue until rescinded by AER headquarters.
Eligible applicants: Active duty, retired, and medically retired Soldiers, survivors, U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), and Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers activated on Title 10 orders for 31 or more consecutive days. USAR and ARNG Soldiers activated on Title 10 or Title 32 orders in support of COVID-19 are also eligible, regardless of the length of activation.
Learn more here or find the nearest AER location with their Office Locator to request assistance.
Air Force Aid Society
The Air Force Aid Society is now offering a Virtual Schooling Grant for dependents in K-12. Applications will be available on 9/1/2020. This one-time, $250 grant is available to eligible Air Force families with a financial need and is specifically intended to help with virtual schooling costs for school supplies.
Eligible applicants: Active duty Airmen, AF Reserve (AFR) and Air National Guard (ANG) on continuous Active Duty orders for more than 15 days under Title 10, Air National Guard AGR (Full-Time, Title 32, 502(f) only) and Retirees and Widow(er)s.
Learn more about the grant here. If you have questions, contact your local Airman & Family Readiness Center either by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 703-972-2650, option #6.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is offering a zero-interest COVID-19 Rapid Response Loan, up to $1,500. This loan is available in addition to their traditional quick assistance loan of $500.
Eligible applicants: Active duty in the USN or USMC who have enough time left on your contract to repay the interest-free loan, have no unpaid or outstanding interest-free loans from the Society, and have no disciplinary actions in the past six months (or pending) that impact your pay or rank.
Learn more about what the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers here.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) offers a COVID Supplemental Education Grant that pays up to $500 for school supplies to support at-home and virtual learning. CGMA also offers an In-Person Tutoring Grant that pays up to $1,000 for pre-K through 8th grade, a Supplemental Special Needs Grant that pays up to $1,000 for support and services, and child care grants of up to $500 to offset increased demands and difficulties in getting child care during these tough times.
In addition to these grants, CGMA also offers child care loans of up to $6,000 and a Lost Wages Loan to cover up to two months of salary for spouses who lost income, not to exceed $6,000.
Read more about these assistance opportunities from CGMA here.
If you have trouble reaching your aid society, the American Red Cross is authorized to assist on their behalf. Call the American Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337 then select the option for financial assistance.
By: Nicole Russell, Government Relations Deputy Director