Everyone can agree that our veterans and active service members deserve support for the sacrifices that they make to keep our country safe. However, veterans are rarely alone in their experience: military families, including spouses, children,and relatives, also deserve support, considering the emotional toll that they take on by supporting a service member.
Scholarships for military spouses are just one way for military families to receive the support that they need and deserve. Although these scholarships may not cover all the costs associated with post-secondary education, they can certainly help military spouses work towards their goals by alleviating some of the financial burdens of tuition costs and supplies.
If you are a military spouse interested in learning more about the scholarship options available to you, then check out our useful guide below on everything related to military spouse scholarships, from eligibility to application advice:
Although it might be easier if there was just one single application and one funding program, the reality is that there are many different scholarship programs, each with their own unique criteria. Unfortunately, this means that an applicant will likely need to submit multiple applications to different programs. Fortunately, many programs have overlapping criteria, and request the same documents, allowing for an easier application process.
The scholarships available to you can depend on several factors, including the state you live in; what kind of education you are pursuing; and what military branch your spouse serves.
Common documents that are required for scholarship applications include valid identification, proof of enrollment in a post-secondary program, and proof of being married to a service member. It’s a good idea to get these documents together as quickly as possible, as you can then use them throughout your application process.
Some scholarships might have other criteria including personal essays, records of academic performance, and proof of financial need. It is best to do your research before beginning your applications so that you can address any concerns before, rather than after, your application is submitted.
Finding a Scholarship Program
For many military spouses, this can be the most challenging aspect of the application process. If you already have documents handy or you are a pro at writing personal essays, the application itself may not intimidate you. However, finding the opportunities available to you can be a challenge. Here are some good places to start:
MyCAA: military spouses may be eligible for up to $4,000 of financial support through The Military Spouses Career Advancement Account Scholarship. Candidates are eligible for money towards most associate degree programs, as well as other career-related training programs. To find out if your school is eligible, and how you can apply through your school, contact your financial aid directly. You can also contact a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Consultant at 1.800.342.9647.
National Military Family Association: this amazing non-profit organization offers a full range of funding opportunities. Unlike some other scholarship programs, you do not need to be enrolled at a university to be eligible for funding. The NMFA also has programs to assist with licenses, certifications, vocational training as well as offering scholarships.
Your School’s Financial Aid Department: A simple Google search of your school’s name with “financial aid” next to it can do wonders. Virtually every school, both public and private, has a financial aid department. Among other things, this department can help you find funding opportunities both related and unrelated to your status as a military spouse, prepare a stellar application and keep track of deadlines.
Local spouses’ clubs: More often than not, military spouses’ clubs are smaller, more selective groups focused on one specific base or area. The bad news here is that the small size often leads to smaller amounts of funding. The good news is that many scholarships associated with spouses’ clubs are less competitive, and it is perfectly plausible that you may be one of just a few applicants for certain awards and grants.
The Gold Star Scholarship Program- provided by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, this scholarship program offers up to $2500 per academic year for the children and spouses of Navy or Marine Corps veterans who have died in the line of duty. Applicants must also prove their financial need, as well as receive a 2.0 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale.
The Veterans Benefits Association- the VA has a program that supports the spouses and dependents of certain veterans, including disabled and service members who died in the line of duty. The VA website offers helpful information on different funding opportunities, as well as a convenient online application.
Advice for Applicants
First and foremost, it is important to begin researching scholarships opportunities as early as possible. Doing so will allow you to get the necessary documents in order, and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by quickly approaching deadlines.
If you have any questions or concerns, do not be afraid to contact your school’s financial aid department, or the scholarship provider directly. Often, you will find knowledgeable people who are more than happy to help.
Another important thing to remember is that, far too often, scholarship funding goes unclaimed because no eligible students applied. In fact,some experts predict that an astonishing amount of over $130 million in scholarship funding goes unclaimed in America every year.
Whether you are applying for an award funded by a spouse club that feels particularly close-knit and selective or looking at a major scholarship where you feel there will be many competing applications, it is still important to go for the opportunity. Remember, the worst-case scenario of applying to a scholarship is the same as the only scenario in not applying for it.
Ultimately, finding the right scholarship opportunity will take time, as will preparing a winning application. However, once you find yourself with the ability to work towards your academic goals without a financial burden, you will be grateful for every second of time you put into the process.