"Congress Pans MyCAA Rules
Last week, we reported MOAA's strong disagreement with the Pentagon's decision to make military spouses of career members ineligible for the popular Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program.
On Tuesday, the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary Gates echoing our concerns that the new rules "send the wrong message" and "fail to achieve the objectives [Congress intended] for this program." With Congressional support, MOAA hopes to find a way to reopen this important program to career spouses while also accommodating fiscal constraints."
From the article:
The Navy announced the implementation of a quarterly cap on Tuition Assistance payments which is set to start in October. As the only service to limit TA to 16 units a year, the Navy has a history of carefully controlling the use of TA by its members.
According to Navy officials, this new quarterly cap is the service’s way of ensuring the availability of TA throughout the year. This new limitation is undoubtedly related to the increasing cost of TA and shrinking military budgets which are sure to come in the next fiscal year.
It always seems a little wrong to cut benefits to Service members during a time when we are asking so much.
Not good enough.
There are plenty of programs, like ours, that the Air Force TA covers the full amount of the required tuition.
Don't be fooled into taking on debt for an online degree when you can get it totally paid for.
See Lamar's degree completion bachelor's or the bachelor in business administration from NECB.
Most Navy bases have given up education fairs so it is great to see Great Lakes keeping things moving so more service members can find out the best information on using their GI Bill, MyCAA and TA.
See you there!!
General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance - The purpose of the Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) is to provide partial tuition assistance for spouses of Active Duty airmen or officers, who accompany members to overseas locations and will be attending college programs. The focus of the program is on the completion of degree or certificate programs that provide increased occupational opportunities for spouses. The program provides tuition Assistance (TA) at a rate of 50% of unmet tuition charge per course, with a maximum of $1,500 per academic year and a term maximum, which is calculated by dividing the annual maximum ($1,500) by the number of terms within the academic year. For purposes of this program, "academic year" is defined as the 12-month period beginning August 1 through July 31 of each year.
Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP) - Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society -
STAP has been modified this year to a need based no interest loan, available to spouses residing with their active duty service member sponsor, while stationed outside the fifty United States. STAP no interest loans are available for part-time and full-time undergraduate and graduate studies.
The 2009 STAP program offers significantly expanded eligibility with loans of up to $3,000 per 12 month period. These modifications increase the number of qualified spouses and offer an excellent opportunity to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree when stationed overseas. To learn more about this program, please contact your local NMCRS office
Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP)
The Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP) is a need-based education assistance program designed to provide spouses of active duty and retired Army Soldiers, and widows(ers) of Army Soldiers who died either on active duty or in a retired status, and residing in the United States, with financial assistance in pursuing educational goals. The purpose of the program is to assist spouses/widows(ers) in gaining the education required to allow them to qualify for increased occupational opportunities.
Please remember the DEADLINE for the 2010-2011 Student Aid Report (SAR): Postmarked no later than May 1, 2010.
More military spouse education scholarships will be coming.
"One of the more costly provisions of S. 3447 would expand the new GI Bill beyond covering college courses to any type of training that veterans might want, from vocational schools and apprenticeships to flight instruction. Post-9/11 vets who currently take non-degree courses must make an irreversible decision to use their less-generous Montgomery GI Bill benefit.
"Another Akaka provision would make National Guard members eligible for the new GI Bill based on time spent on active duty through Title 32 call-ups for domestic emergencies or homeland security missions, or to serve fulltime under the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) program. Guard members activated under this authority since 9/11 were overlooked for Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility in 2008 in the scramble to shape and pass a final bill. Last year, by Guard estimates, the oversight had denied more than 75,000 Army Guard and 2500 Air Guard members access to the best veterans’ education benefit since World War II. Even more Guard members would qualify today given recent call ups for the oil disaster and border security."
"A third key provision of S. 3447 would eliminate what Akaka described as “a complicated, confusing and, in some cases, inequitable calculation of State-by-State tuition and fee caps” for setting Post-9/11 benefits. A simplified system still would ensure that vets in degree programs at public institutions anywhere in the U.S. pay little, if any, out of pocket costs. For those enrolled in private or foreign colleges, tuition and fees payments would match the lessor of actual college charges or of a national tuition-and-fee cap. The cap would be the average of tuition and fees across both public and private institutions for the most recent academic year."
"Two other important parts would: Provide for a modified living allowance to vets seeking degrees solely through online or distance learning if at more than the half-time rate. They would get 50 percent of the allowance payable to resident students.
Provide enrolled Post-9/11 students still on active duty, or their enrolled spouses, the book allowance of up to $1,000 annually."
Some really solid improvements to a great benefit. We will keep you posted as the changes progress. In light of very tight budgets, this is not going to be an easy bill to get approved.
AKAKA TO MOVE FORWARD WITH POST-9/11 GI BILL IMPROVEMENT ACT
Chairman holds hearing on strengthening new education program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a favorable hearing on improving the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) is preparing to move forward with legislation to improve the new program.
“The original GI Bill changed my life and our country,” said Akaka, one of three current U.S. Senators who went to college on the original GI Bill. “I am committed to strengthening the new program for post-9/11 troops and veterans, and I look forward to moving this improvement bill to a vote.”
Akaka is the author of a S. 3447, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, a bill to enhance the new education benefit for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is scheduled to hold a markup of pending legislation on August 5, 2010, at which point Akaka intends to bring the bill up for a vote.
At the hearing yesterday, witnesses testified in support of the legislation and offered suggestions.
Eric Hilleman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars stated that Senator Akaka’s legislation “addresses every area of concern the VFW has with improving the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”
Tim Embree from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America offered ideas for the draft bill as well as IAVA’s endorsement. Embree said the “discussion draft of S. 3447 will improve the New GI Bill and ensure that all student veterans have access to the most generous investment in veterans’ education since World War II.”
Akaka, a World War II veteran, attended the University of Hawaii-Manoa on the original GI Bill. He cosponsored the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and worked with Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) to revise and negotiate the legislation. More information about the hearing, including statements, testimony and the webcast is available here: veterans.senate.gov
"Spouses who currently have an active account will be allowed to request financial assistance until Thursday, October 21, 2010. And beginning September 1, 2010, spouses may request financial assistance for classes that have a start date up to January 15, 2011. To ensure adequate time to plan for courses, no career plans will be accepted after August 31, 2010. All currently approved financial assistance documents will be honored."
The last class our student needs to complete her master's starst on January 12, 2011. So at least one military spouse can achieve her education goal.
The original intent of the program was to help get associate degrees and certificates and I get that these changes bring MyCAA back to the original intent. But anytime you take away something that is considered a great benefit, you hurt morale. So saying that:
"When service members are confident that their families at home have access to resources and support, they are better able to focus on their mission,”
when most families now feel that support has been yanked out from under them is cruel.
I have spoken with spouses who have started a program that will help them truly take a step forward in their careers that may have to drop the program without these funds. This is a blow to morale and will do more damage than good.
Spouses need support. They need real education options that can have a real impact on their long term careers when they move every few years. The new MyCAA program does not provide that support.
But please note that we are still here to help. The schools we work with have leveraged technology to lower the tuition to make education affordable. So even if you don't have MyCAA you can earn a Master's in Education from University of Texas-Arlington, American College of Education, Lamar University or Arkansas State University for less than $7,000. You can complete your bachelor's with Lamar as well for $150 per credit hour. And you can earn an associate, bachelor's or master's in business from New England College of Business and Finance. We also have RN to BSN programs at UTA, Ohio and Purdue at less than $5,000 in state.
So don't let these changes stop your education - find the program that will actually help you get there.
However if you want an Associate's degree in Business: NECB will be ready for you in October.
DoD Press release on MyCAA
DoD will resume the MyCAA program. The Department Of Defense has completed the program review and will be making the necessary adjustments to resume the MyCAA program beginning in October 2010. Starting 8 a.m. (EDT) Monday October 25, 2010, Military OneSource career and education counselors will have a much more active role in supporting military spouses. In addition to understanding resources available via DoD’s financial aid support, they will provide support and assistance to identify and gain access to other federal, state and local programs. All military spouses of active duty service members will be eligible for career counseling and support.
New financial assistance guidelines.
With a focus on the original intent of the program, the Defense Department’s financial assistance program will:
- Be available to spouses of active duty service members in pay grades E1-E5, W1-W2, and O1-O2
- Offer a maximum financial benefit of $4,000 with a fiscal year cap of $2,000. Waivers will be available for spouses pursuing licensure or certification up to the total maximum assistance of $4,000
- Require military spouses to finish their program of study within three years from the start date of the first course
- Be limited to associate degrees, certification and licensures
These new guidelines reflect a return to the original purpose of the program – to assist spouses of service members achieve portable careers. These changes also align the program with responsible fiscal planning by the Defense Department to help sustain the program. Additional program details will be posted on this Web site when they become available. We encourage you to check the site often.
Spouses who currently have an active account will be allowed to request financial assistance until Thursday, October 21, 2010. And beginning September 1, 2010, spouses may request financial assistance for classes that have a start date up to January 15, 2011. To ensure adequate time to plan for courses, no career plans will be accepted after August 31, 2010.
All currently approved financial assistance documents will be honored. Additionally, the review revealed that National Guard and Reserve members must be on active duty for their spouses to receive the MyCAA benefit. Spouses may no longer use the MyCAA benefit when the service member is in an alert or demobilization period. The new eligibility rule takes effect immediately. The program will be closed from Friday, October 22 to Monday, October 25, 2010, so that we may ensure the infrastructure is in place to implement the new program. Military spouses are the backbone for military families, displaying strength of character to be admired by this nation. The Department of Defense remains committed to investing in military families, and appreciates the sacrifice of those who also serve. Click here for information on financial resources that are available.
Another great guide comes from IAVA - the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. They have a very readable guide to education benefits for veterans on their New GI Bill site. This is the first page I had found that actually made it very clear on how to get your GI Bill benefits.
So take a look at these two great resources to move your education goals closer to reality. Then hit our schools for the actual learning!
Got a lot of emails this week about MyCAA accounts - still no news other than the "not to distant future". Sorry.
About half of the Airmen I spoke with at Wright-Patterson had this issue. They had credits from the military but didn't know quite what to do with them. In order to advance they need the degree - so my advice was simple:
Use all your credits and take classes to earn a general degree with a concentration that interests you. The most critical element in the plan is that the degre must be from an accredited college or university. That way they have solid credits towards a future master's or another bachelor's if they find an area where they really want to specialize.
Lamar University has a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences that allows you to stop wandering, and get the degree with six different specializations to help your career move forward now and determine your true calling later on in life.
We have both Lamar and NECB ready to serve those that serve with bachelor degrees that give credit for their CCAF experience or other experiential and military credits. So it was great to have degrees that are in such high demand.
Quite a few looking for online mba programs - we have master's in finance, business ethics and corporate MBA's as well. Great to talk with them. Also quite a few looking to teach after the military and American College of Education is a fantastic next step.
On to Wright-Patterson AFB for tomorrow's education fair!
Our first education fair was at Dover AFB in Delaware. Great time and a great group ready to move forward with their education. The best part of the day was getting an Staff Sargent started on his bachelor degree completion through Lamar University. He is getting an unofficial transcript review to see how many credits from the Air Force will transfer towards his degree.
In the picture at above, Senior Master Sergeant Hawkins is looking at earning her master's in educational technology from American College of Education.
Just arrived in Wichita, Kansas for the McConnell AFB Education Fair tomorrow, 7/13/2010 from 1000 to 1400 at the Robert Dole Community Center - hope to see you there!
- 7/11: Dover AFB, DE 10:00 - 1:00
- 7/13: McConnell AFB, KS 10:00 -2:00
- 7/14: Wright Patterson AFB, OH 10:00 - 2:00
- 7/15: Peterson AFB, CO 10:00 - 1:00
- 7/16: Maxwell AFB, AL 10:00 - 2:00
Then I head home. Please check in with the blog and our EduMilitary youtube channel to see how it is going, who we are talking to and what is happening in military education benefits from the people who are really using them!
NPR did a story on two veterans who are trying to help. One of them, Eli Williams actually got harassed by a bill collector while deployed in Iraq. So wrong.
So they started Leave No Veteran Behind - a non-profit that will help distressed service members and veterans pay off their student loans. They are looking for donations since the average person contacting them has $45,000 in debt.
Is that military friendly?? For a school to take someone in and pile on that much debt is just wrong.
"But I expect within the next two weeks we’ll reopen the program, with a substantial increase in the funding"
Note to Secretary Gates and Staff - it is now July 7, 2010. I can see being a few days off, maybe even a week - but 2 months and we still don't know when MyCAA is coming back?! I have so many spouses waiting to move forward with their education that it is really not right to do this to them.
Fall is rapidly approaching. My guess now is that it opens in late July, there is a mad scramble for spouses to get enrolled for the fall semester. It could be so much easier if it opens now and gives people some time to get things set up.
I will continue to compile a list of military scholarships for members, veterans, spouses and family members. Here is a great list that i have found so far:
- Military.Com Scholarship Finder http://benefits.military.com/education/scholarship/ScholarshipSearch.jsp
for military families
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Programs
(1) USS Stark Memorial Fund NMCRS Education Division
(2) Travers Loan Program 801 N. Randolph St. Suite 1228
(3) Spouse TA Program – For Spouses accompanying their Arlington, VA husbands or wives overseas- Managed by local NMCRS offices 703-696-4960 or DSN: 426-4960
Web site: www.nmcrs.org/education.html and http://www.nmcrs.org/stap.html
- Army Emergency Relief Spouse Ed. Assistance Program http://www.aerhq.org/education.asp
- Fold of Honor Foundation Scholarships http://www.foldsofhonor.org
Fold of Honor Foundation is a legacy foundation designed to provide scholarships for dependents and spouses of service members that have been killed or disabled as a result of their military service.
- Air Force Aid Society Education Grant
The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grants Program http://www.afas.org/Education/body_grant.cfm
Spouses (stateside) of active duty members and Title 10 AGR.Reservists
and surviving spouses of deceased personnel
- Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) (for dependents of members only) FRA Scholarship Program (Members can be active duty, Reserve, or retired personnel of Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard) Web site: www.fra.org
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance 1-800-881-2462. http://www.cgmahq.org
- Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship http://www.nmfa.org/site/PageServer
- Ladies Auxiliary of the FRA Scholarship http://www.la-fra.org/
LA FRA National Headquarters NES@LA-FRA.ORG or call 781-396-4859
- Free CLEP & DANTES Exams for ARNG Spouses Stateside http://www.voled.doded.mil/voled_web/services/rcvoled/arng/ARNG_INDEX.htm
- AFCEA General Emmett Paige Scholarships Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- AFA (Air Force Association) Spouse Scholarship http://www.afa.org/aef/aid/spouse.asp
For a spouse of Air Force active duty, Air Guard or Air Reserve
- Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) Scholarship Grant NCOA Scholarship Fund, Inc. For spouses of members of NCOA P www.ncoausa.org
- Fleet Training Center Petty Officers Association Scholarship Fund Petty Officer Association For spouses of a living or deceased past or present staff member of Fleet Training Center the Fleet Training Center
- Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) The Kathern E. Gruber Scholarship Program
Spouses of legally blinded U.S. Forces veterans 477 H. St NW
Washington, DC 20001-2694 202-371-8880
- Officers Spouses’ Club of San Diego, Inc. Scholarship To dependent children or spouses of active duty, retired, Surface Navy Association scholarships to members of the Surface Navy Association, their spouses, E-mail: email@example.com www.navysna.org
- Anchor Scholarship Foundation http://www.anchorscholarship.com
For dependents of active duty or retired personnel who served in commands E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Parris Island Officer’s Spouse Club Rebecca Varicak 843-522-1615
Marine Corps Air Station Officers Spouses Club (Parris Island) Mary Ellen DeWolfe 843-379-9654 Parris Island Staff Non-commissioned Officers Spouse Club Joanne Bright 843-525-1756
- Hearts and Hands Community Club Scholarship For spouses within USAG Giessen E-mail: email@example.com
- THANKS USA http://www.thanksusa.org Spouses of military personnel can apply for one of nearly 1000 scholarships 1-877-THX-USAS Of up to $5000 each for college, vocational and technical schools firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scholarships for Severely Injured Service Members and Their Dependents http://www.dantes.doded.mil/sfd/index.asp?Flag=True
- Pat Tillman Military Scholars Program
Additional Online General Resources
- Federal Student Financial Aid : http://www.studentaid.ed.gov
- VA Education Assistance: http://www.gibill.va.gov
- Amazing Scholarship Guide
- College Board Scholarship Search http://apps.collegeboard.com/cbsearch_ss/welcome.jsp
- Fast Web http://www.fastweb.com/
- Scholarship Gateway http://www.blackexcel.org/link4.htm
- Scholarship Resource Network Express http://www.srnexpress.com/
- Scholarships.com http://www.scholarships.com/
- The Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credits ttp://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/PPI/HOPE/index.html
- E-Student Loan.com http://www.estudentloan.com/
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Let every nation know, wheter it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burern, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
~John F. Kennedy
One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore!
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope”.
“In this first year of implementation, alone, more than 550,000 veterans have applied to receive this benefit and more than 267,000 are now attending classes on the GI Bill. That is more than a quarter of a million young men and women who otherwise might not have had an opportunity for a truly first-class future,” Webb said.
There are going to be some solid changes in the new legislation on Post 9/11 GI Bill which will get a hearing on July 21st. Don't confuse proposed changes with what is going on now. The press love to play up what might happen and it really confuses people.
It is rare that I feel like thanking Washington - but in this case, our thanks for this great benefit.