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The men and women who serve our country in uniform are eligiblefor a number of educational benefits in exchange for their service.It’s only fair: they offer their blood, sweat and tears to defendthe nation, and the nation contributes resources to help thembecome better soldiers, or re-join the civilian world. However,service members aren’t the only people making sacrifices on behalfof the military: their family members do as well.

The U.S. government understands that military families are animportant support network for its service members, and offersseveral benefits to help keep these families stable and functioningduring deployment. These include educational benefits andcareer-planning advice.

Who can benefit

Only immediate family members of a service member can claimmilitary educationbenefits. Immediate family includes the spouse and dependentchildren. Cousins, uncles, aunts, parents and siblings don’tqualify.

If you are the husband or wife of a service member and wish toclaim benefits, you cannot be legally separated from your militaryspouse when you apply. Dependent children can include biologicalchildren and step-children. In some cases, nieces or nephews mayalso qualify if they are dependent on the service member. Alwayscheck with the agency or service branch to confirm eligibilityrequirements before applying for aid.

Sources of education benefits

While military family member benefits will defray the cost oftraining significantly, there may still be a gap between theassistance you qualify for and the total cost of your education.Fortunately, accepting military family benefits doesn’t disqualifyyou from looking for aid elsewhere. You can qualify for benefitsfrom a number of different places. In addition to government orservice branch-sponsored assistance, for example, you can alsoapply for private scholarships or loans.

Here are a few common sources of aid offered by the U.S.government and the various service branches:

Survivor and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program:Administered by the Veterans Affairs office, this award offersassistance for up to 45 months of degree courses, certificationprograms, diplomas or on-the-job training for spouses or dependentchildren. Additionally, spouses can use this award toward distancelearning, such as an onlinedegree program.

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts: The Department ofDefense offers up to $3,000 per year toward training for “portablecareer” skills. This award can be renewed once, for a total of$6,000 toward education.

General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program: This award, forthe sons, daughters, or spouses of active-duty or retired ordeceased Air Force service personnel, offers $2,000 per year towarddirect educational costs. The eligible family members mustdemonstrate financial need and be residing in the UnitedStates.

Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP): For thespouses of active-duty members of the Army who reside in the U.S.,this program offers up to $2,500 per academic year toward educationcosts. If your employer offers tuition assistance, you can stillapply for this award to cover the cost of materials, books andother education-related expenses.

Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP): Sponsored by the Navy andMarine Corps Relief Society, this program offers financial aid toqualifying spouses of active-duty Navy or Marine Corps membersstationed abroad. Spouses enrolled in an undergraduate program canreceive up to $1,500 per academic year, while graduate students canqualify for up to $1,750 in benefits.

This list is merely a sample of some of the more well-knownforms of assistance offered. To find out more, contact staff atyour installation, or visit the VA online at www.va.gov.

Transferring post-9/11 G.I. bill benefits

The G.I. Bill signed into law in 2008 offers new educationsupport. This includes the right to transfer unused G.I. Billbenefits to one’s spouse or children. In order to transfer yourbenefits, you must have served at least six years prior to Aug. 1,2009, and must have agreed to serve at least four more years.

Online education: a solution for military families on themove

It can be difficult to complete your education when you need tomove every few years (or more often). Fortunately, online educationmakes it possible to head to class wherever you have an Internetconnection (and whenever you have some time to yourself). Manyuniversities offering online degree programscan accept benefits from the VA or Department of Defense, as wellas G.I. Bill benefits. If you want to pursue your degree online,and are interested in applying for private or servicebranch-sponsored assistance, make sure you check that onlinecollege education can be paid for with your award before you submityour application.

Information in this article was provided by Colorado TechnicalUniversity. Contact CTU today if you’re interested in developingmarketable knowledge and career-relevant skills with anindustry-current degree program. (CTU does not guarantee employmentor salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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