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: Spouses of service members with the rank of E1-E5; W1-W2; O1-O2.
What’s the basics: Maximum tuition assistance benefit of $4000 to be used toward an associate degree, license or certification.
Deadline: Rolling basis.
The Bennie Adkins Foundation
What’s the basics: Special Forces soldiers (E5 – E9) on active duty, recently separated (within 5 years), or retired (within 5 years) who have been accepted by or already attending an accredited college, university, or vocational institution.
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.
What’s the basics: Interest-free loans and grants for undergraduates at an accredited 2- or 4-year education, technical or vocational institution.
Details: Applications will be available January 1, 2021.
Deadline: Applications and all supporting documents are to be postmarked no later than June 1, 2021.
Air Force Aid Society
Who’s eligible: Spouses of active duty and Title 10 Reservists, and widows.
What’s the basics: Needs-based grant ranging from $500 – $4000.
Details: Applications will be available January 2021.
Deadline: April 30, 2021.
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.
Details: Applications are available starting January 1, 2021. All applications must be submitted online.
Deadline: The application cycle runs January 2021 – April 2021 and must be submitted no later than April 1, 2021 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
What’s the basics: 10 military spouses will be awarded a scholarship ranging from $1,000 – $2,500.
Details: Applications are scheduled to open in May 2021. Winners are announced in July.
Deadline: Applications are accepted in May through June.
FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program
What’s the basics: The fellowship provides military spouses the opportunity to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor® certification.
Details: You will need a letter of recommendation and complete four essay questions as part of your application.
Deadlines: Application dates and deadlines for 2021 have not yet been announced.
What’s 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: The application cycle typically runs March 1 – April 15.
Florida Advisory Council on Military Education
Who’s eligible: Active duty, guard, or reserve service member of the U. S. Armed Forces, spouse of any active duty, guard, or reserve service member of the U. S. Armed Forces; and veteran with an honorable discharge (must provide documentation). Applicants must meet one of the three criteria: reside in Florida, be permanently stationed in Florida as part of either the active duty, guard and reserve component, or enrolled at a Florida institution of higher learning during the application period of the award year.
Details: Due to COVID-19, 2020 applications were suspended. 2021 application dates to be announced soon.
Deadline: To be determined.
Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education
Who’s eligible: Active-duty and military spouses/dependents of drilling reservists, National Guard or retirees, permanently disabled military member or their family member, family member of service member who is missing or KIA, or any veteran or retiree of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Details: Application dates are yet to be announced.
Deadline: To be determined.
Pat Tillman Foundation
Who’s eligible: Current spouses of veterans or active-duty service members, including surviving spouses.
What’s the basics: $10,000 scholarship to assist with academic expenses, such as tuition, fees, and books.
Details: Application window is Feb. – Feb. 28, 2021. Tillman Scholars are not only given scholarship opportunities but they are also able to join in leadership development programs and professional opportunities.
Deadline: February 28, 2021
Hope For The Warriors
Link to receive an application (click apply for services): https://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/
What’s 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, 2021.
Council of College and Military Educators (CCME)
What’s the basics: The organization awards $1,000 scholarships to United States military service members (active duty/veterans) and spouses of service members who are working towards the completion of higher education degrees.
Details: There are several different scholarship opportunities based on eligibility. Visit their website for more information.
Deadline: January 31, 2021
Coast Guard Foundation
Who’s eligible: Spouses and children of enlisted Coast Guard members, children of fallen Coast Guard members, and enlisted Coast Guard members.
Details: There are several scholarships opportunities available based on eligibility. Visit their website for more information.
Deadline: Scholarships dates and deadlines will be posted February 2021.
DUSA – The Society of Daughters of The United States Army
Who’s eligible: Applicants must be the daughter, granddaughter, stepdaughter, or adopted daughter of a career commissioned or warrant officer in the United States Army who is on active duty, retired after at least 20 years active duty service, was medically retired from active duty, or died while on active duty. High school senior and college applicants must have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in academic work completed to date.
What’s the basics: $1,500 scholarships awarded; number of scholarships awarded vary by year.
Details: Scholarship awards are delivered in two payments to directly to the institution.
Deadline: Check back in January 2021. Applications are typically due by March 15th.
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.
What’s 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: AFA accepts scholarship applications between Dec. 1 and April 30, 2021.
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.
What’s 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.
What’s 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: Applications are due Feb. 17, 2021
LOCAL SPOUSE CLUBS
There are dozens of spouse clubs co-located to military installations 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.
Below are a few examples of those currently offering education assistance —
Eielson Air Force Base Spouses’ Club (AK)
Fort Huachuca Community Spouses Club (AZ)
Details: Spouses or dependent children whose sponsor is assigned to or living in the greater Fort Huachuca area are eligible to apply for FHCSC scholarships.
The Officers’ Spouses’ Club in Yuma (AZ)
Details: Scholarships available to military dependents within a 50-mile radius of Yuma, AZ.
Military Spouse Association of Camp Pendleton (CA)
Details: The scholarship is open to spouses and dependents who have an AD or retired sponsor from Camp Pendleton.
Monterey Bay Officers Spouse Club (CA)
Travis Spouses Club (CA)
Details: Scholarships for graduating high school seniors, college/continuing education students, and military spouses attached to Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA.
Buckley Spouses’ Group (CO)
Details: Applications are due Feb. 14, 2021
Scott Spouses Club (Illinois)
Details: Deadline for applications is Feb. 1, 2021
Fort Meade Enlisted Spouses’ Club (MD)
Details: Open to spouses and dependents. See website for eligibility.
Fort Meade Officers’ Spouses’ Club (MD)
Details: Open to local Fort Meade affiliated dependents (including spouses).
Camp Lejeune Officers’ Spouses’ Club (NC)
Details: Spouses of active duty military personnel assigned to MCB Camp Lejeune, a tenant unit aboard Camp Lejeune, Camp Johnson, Camp Geiger, or MCAS New River; or deceased military personnel whose last active duty station was one of the above locations
Fort Bragg Spouses Club (NC)
Details: Awarded to spouses, dependents, and service members who are continuing their education at the collegiate level, including undergraduate and graduate levels
MCAS New River Officer Spouses Club (NC)
Offutt Enlisted Spouses Club (NE)
Offutt Officers’ Spouses’ Club (NE)
Minot Spouses’ Club (ND)
Details: Spouses & dependents of active duty, retired, or deceased military Members of any rank or service branch seeking a degree or certificate from an accredited college or vocational school.
Tinker Air Force Base (OK)
Military Spouses of Newport (RI)
Details: Spouses of RI active duty military personnel; graduating high school students that reside in or are attached to a base in the state of Rhode Island that are dependents of active duty, retired or deceased military personnel.
Parris Island (SC)
Contact: For more information on obtaining an application, contact email@example.com.
Details: Open to military spouses and graduating seniors stationed locally to Parris Island.
Shaw Spouses Club (SC)
Details: Applications open Feb. 1, 2021
Fort Bliss Spouses’ Association (TX)
Details: FBSA scholarships are for spouses and children of active-duty, retired, and Gold Star families of ALL RANKS in and around the El Paso area as well as the spouses and children of GS civilian employees who are members of FBSA.
NATIONAL SPOUSE CLUBS
Just as there are local spouse clubs, similar organizations exist on the national level and yes, they want to support military spouse education too.
Navy Wives Clubs of America
Who’s eligible: Up to 30 scholarships awarded annually, with eligibility for spouses/dependents of the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.