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MyCAA — Up & Running (but with new rules)

July 20, 2010

Military OneSource has posted the new rules/regulations/qualifications for the “new & improved” MyCAA program. However, before you get all excited, from the looks of things it has some drastic changes. See for yourself:

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 in achieving 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 here when they become available. We encourage you to check the site often.

Spouses who currently have an active account

Spouses with an active account will be allowed to request financial assistance until Thursday, October 21, 2010. 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.

*********

Here’s my problem with this. I understand the financial cap. I know things got out of control the first time around, but this is a HUGE payment drop for those that were expecting and promised the $6,000 a year that the program originally promised. (And for the record, I know that there are other sources of funding out there, and that we shouldn’t EXPECT to have our education paid for by the military. But … promises, promises, DoD.) Also, I’m sorry, but you are not “assisting spouses of service members” if you are limiting who can access it. I’m a military spouse. My husband, however, is an E6. Something that we are both very proud of. But — sorry. I don’t fall into the bubble, so I can’t take advantage of this program. So it SHOULD say, the purpose of the program is to assist certain spouses of certain service members. But not all.

And when did a two year associates degree become a career track?

I appreciate the effort, but I think this is a huge slap in the face to the military spouse community. Especially for those of us who aren’t allowed to participate. Don’t wave the “we’re helping military spouses” flag, when you’re not helping all of us. In my eyes, it’s all or nothing.

*For the record, I was just going to post the new regulations, but the more I read about it, the more fired up I got. Sorry for the rant!

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. sreysaw permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:13 pm

    Thanks for letting us know. I guess I better get cracking before my hubby gets promoted! :/

    • kajwill permalink
      July 20, 2010 3:26 pm

      This is awful..What about E6 E7 E8. it never fails the middle never gets help. The officers can afford to pay their spouse tuition. The system is just wrong.

      • July 20, 2010 3:55 pm

        They shouldn’t discriminate at ALL, regardless of what your rank is. It should be ALL or nothing.

      • Tracy permalink
        July 20, 2010 4:27 pm

        My spouse happens to be an officer(O-3) and cannot afford to pay my tuition. I cannot afford to pay it either, as I left a $50k/year job when we PCS’d over a year and a half ago, and have been jobless ever since. I left a state that doesn’t extend unemployment benefits to military spouses, moved to a state that is ridiculously expensive, and I already had a mountain of student loan debt when we got married.

        My problem with DoD handling of MyCAA is that they just don’t seem to get it, or they don’t care. I’m still waiting for clarification as to whether I will be able to use the money or not. My classes have not started, but I have been approved for the $6k. I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time applying to the degree program I chose, and now it appears I may have wasted my time and money.

        I understand that the program is a lot more popular than expected(which tells me whoever was running the show was clueless to start with), and that the money may not be there. I do not understand why so many of us are essentially being told that we are educated enough or should have enough money to get things done on our own. I cannot shake the feeling that someone out there still expects me be a housewife who hosts awesome social gatherings and keeps my mouth shut.

        If DoD is going to extend a carrot in front of my face and tell me it’s mine, then they should not be able to then take it away from me on a whim. That said, maybe I should have expected as much.

    • mandy permalink
      November 18, 2010 12:32 pm

      I won’t bother, I had mycaa and it was when they granted me 6,000, thats when my husband was an wo2 and now he hit wo3 and they took the rest of the 6,000 away and I can’t use it. After I’m already half way through my aa and now i have to try to come up with 1600 dollars before decemeber 15. I love that they gave us heads up last minute, also I dont think its fare to grant the money and then take it away.

      • oregonbean permalink
        November 19, 2010 9:56 am

        Mandy,

        What happened? Originally those who already programs approved had until October 21, 2010 to request funds for classes that started up to January 15, 2011. After a lot of complaints, they adjusted the start date to January 31st. The MyCAA program sent out e-mails several times addressing the changes, reminding people that the rules were going to change, and then advising that the class start date had been extended.

        I no longer qualify for the program due to my hubby’s rank, but I was able touse almost the entire 6k benefit, even though my next semester doesn’t start until late January.

  2. Laya permalink
    July 20, 2010 1:07 pm

    This gets me really angry, and if I start ranting, I apologize ahead of time.

    First of all, if this is supposed to be supportive of “military spouses,” then the document should at least CLEARLY distinguish that it’s not for those of us who are “career-minded.” When I think of career, I think of 10+ years, and a PhD but maybe that’s because I’m a young, delusional law student who actually wants to practice.

    Second, this entire program is to help the spouses who have “portable careers,” even though, let’s be honest, the job market for said portable careers is glutted. Even if military spouses did use this program, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to get jobs whenever they PCS’ed, because someone will already be there. Look at the schools on post- there’s a waiting list of at least 20-30 teachers, who want to work but can’t, because there are always more people then there are jobs.

    This isn’t helping military spouses. All it’s doing is perpetuating several problems: some of which being a glutted job market for spouses, and the brass’ “blindness” towards spouses without portable careers. Are we not as important then, because we choose to support both our spouses’ aspirations and our own?

  3. July 20, 2010 1:09 pm

    OHHHHHH, I got the DoD alert while I was at a milspouse event and just about SPIT!!! and a lot of other milspouses are equally outraged! This is nuts. Absolutely NUTS. The military families need social workers – no you can’t do that with an AS. Military families need teachers – no you can’t do that with an AS. CAREERS???? doing WHAT? no disrespect to the medical transcriptionists, or the medical assistants, but is that the career path we are directed to??

    Keep your promises DoD. that’s what we’ve been saying since the debacle started. thanks a lot, for showing us all exactly what those promises meant. Nada. NOTHING.

    LAW

  4. SJB permalink
    July 21, 2010 12:16 pm

    Though I don’t think this is fair to the ones being excluded and I completely agree that the DOD should live up to what they promised,I do however think that those of you that are saying that people with certificates or associates degrees aren’t pursuing a “career” should think about this: Did you ever think about the mother that wants to be able to stay home with her children while still generating an income to help contribute financially?? I’m one of those mothers and I’m slightly offended by what you are all saying. To each their own about career choices, be mad at the DOD, not people wanting an associates degree or certificate…thats the route I’m going for now then when the kids get a little older I will go back an pursue my dream, until then, my children and husband are my life.

    • LAW permalink
      July 21, 2010 3:48 pm

      no, we aren’t saying that they aren’t pursuing a career. we are saying that for the DoD to say that Bachelors or other degrees aren’t necessary to pursue a portable career, that it’s not needed, is not up to them. for those of us who want bachelors, it’s because there either ISN’T an Associate degree that covers the career we chose, or that the career path is not open to anyone without a Bachelors degree. I have an AS right now, but for a beginner paralegal, that’s not going to open too many doors anymore. But the counselor/social worker career that I wish to pursue, well that’s impossible without at least a Bachelors. I’m not demanding diddly… I’m saying that we were promised something. I don’t like people or groups that break their promises.

      Oh, and BTW, the “oh go get the GI Bill to cover it”… that may go away too! it’s being discussed. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=60112

      “One of the more notable options in the bill is transferability. It gives career servicemembers who’ve served on active duty or in the selected reserve on or after Aug. 1, 2009, the option to transfer their education benefits to family members, Clark said. Transferability was approved in the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2008, which became law in June 2008.

      Panel members are debating that option for the 2010 bill. Some say transferability shouldn’t be available for every servicemember, because of budget constraints. Rather, the option should be reserved for specific military specialties that are difficult to fill, they said.

      “We had concerns about the generous benefit being more of a draw for first-term members to leave [the military] in order to use this benefit,” Clark said. “[But] we were very pleased to see the transferability … to share this benefit that [servicemembers] have earned with their family members.

      “We did not believe this benefit for family members was to be limited to any specific targeting,” he continued. “We believe that every soldier, sailor, airmen and Marine who chooses to stay should have the same opportunity to share their earned benefits with their family members.”

  5. Tracy permalink
    July 22, 2010 8:46 am

    So, I just read a document guiding public affairs handling of the new MyCAA–what an insult. On the positive side, it did clarify that as of October 25th, I will no longer be eligible, which is nice, since my career plan was approved about a week and a half ago and classes don’t start until September. At least now I know I won’t get a dime–there is no “grandfathering in” those spouses who already have accounts and approved programs.

    The guidance says it’s for official use, and although I received it as a mass e-mail from the FSS, I don’t know that I should post the document here. I will say that one of the goals is to gain acceptance among military spouses for the long-term strategy of MyCAA. Good luck getting any support from the approximately 73,000 of the curently eligible 135,000 spouses enrolled in the program that will be cut off on October 25th. There is also a push to emphasize spouse employment and deemphasize the dollar amount–how about spending those dollars to create a more efficient civil service hiring system for spouses? Seems to me that in the long run, better recruiting and hiring of spouses into civil service would pay in the long run–I know it would keep a lot of service members from bailing so that their spouses could better pursue a meaninful career.

    For anyone out there who will qualify for the program, my suggestion is don’t procrastinate taking advantage of the funding, because I suspect that at some point down the road, it will disappear entirely.

    It’s nice to know DoD cares about me so much!

    –If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is really thinking.
    -Benjamin Franklin

  6. BrownFamilyCrewMama permalink
    July 24, 2010 9:44 am

    I just read the news this week. I’m shocked and amazed about the loss of my benefits. I didn’t use them even though I am approved because I was waiting to finish my batchelors with pell grant money to then use these funds for further education upon completion. Now, I have one class left that I need for my batchelor’s and i’m going to use it before I lose this benefit and then I’m done. I will lose over $5500 in benefits because my husband is an E7. We just arrived at Ft. Hood where the market is primarily medical and other things and I don’t have the skillset to enter a lot of the jobs on the market. I was a student and stay at home Mom in Germany because of the cost of daycare and the desire to finish my degree before returning stateside. Now, I need a job and cannot work on my education to better it further to obtain one. I realized a long time ago that a batchelor’s degree is like what an associate’s degree used to be. Now, I need a master’s and have zero dollars to obtain one. The Pentagon has again screwed us over. Please contact Michelle Obama and Joe Biden and share your stories.

  7. July 24, 2010 9:45 am

    The new changes are definitely a slap in the face and I’m not even speaking from the perspective of someone who is personally getting screwed over on it. We hear again and again, don’t wear your spouse’s rank (which I agree with) and then they implement an education program for spouses based on what? Your spouse’s rank.

    Ridiculous! And don’t even get me started on not allowing to be used towards higher degree levels.

    I went off on my blog too! 😉

  8. LAW permalink
    July 24, 2010 10:08 am

    Actually, contact your congressperson and the members of the Armed Services Committee

  9. Gina permalink
    August 1, 2010 6:58 pm

    Well, once again National Guard Members have be pushed under the bus and stabbed in the back as well as screwed. A National Guard member has to be on Title 10 orders in order to be eligible but wait you can’t be on Alert, Transition Assistance, or Post deployment status well guess what, when a National Guard person is on Title 10 orders they are exactly on Alert status, transition assistance or Post deployment. Then you must use this benefit within a three year period. Well guess what, National Guard members are only on Title 10 orders for 365 to 411 days, duh. But if you are active duty then you can use the benefit well guess what Title 32 orders for National Guard makes them active duty. Then who in the world thought that middle ranking soldiers spouses should not be allowed to get a degree?????? What are we suppose to be stable enough to get by. What just because our soldiers have decided to make a career in the military we are not worthy of the MyCAA benefit. But yet National Guard soldiers are required to leave their families every four years! I am not taking anything away from any soldier but the National Guard Members have been treated like unwanted children. And once again we are being slapped for being in the National Guard but we are also being slapped for having rank of E6, 7,8,9. So, I have approximately $4,950.00 left on my account, I kept a 3.25 grade average, and was going for an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies. But my husband is in the National Guard, rank of E6 and is full time but not on Title 10 orders which are good for 12-15 but Title 32 which is good for 3 years. And I am dropped from the program. What am I suppose to do?

    Sorry for the rant.

    • LAW permalink
      August 1, 2010 7:20 pm

      rant away! that’s one of the worst parts of this “new” MyCAA – the ridiculous rules for National Guard. As a former Guard Wife ( MN Guard, go RED BULLS) I understand completely. This SUCKS

      LAW

  10. Rachel permalink
    January 26, 2011 7:16 pm

    I’m a military spouse of a lower enlisted. While I do see how it may seem unfair, many lower enlisted military spouses struggle a lot more than officer’s wives do – and some people may protest this fact, but it’s true. And an officer’s wife already has a husband with a college degree – many lower enlisted do not have college degrees and many already have one or more children. And plus, I think the government would not be able to afford to pay every military spouses tuition regardless of rank. Obviously someone at the DoD has recognized the fact that lower enlisted (and possibly lower officers) families often struggle a lot. My husband is an E-4, and I would not complain about any handout I received towards college tuition. I grew up low income and my parents cannot afford to help and neither can my husband. So other than this, my only option for college would be loans. Beggars can’t be choosers.

    • OregonBean permalink
      January 27, 2011 9:58 am

      Rachel–I completely understand the struggles of junior enlisted personnel, because I used to be one. I was an E-4 who initially joined the military for the GI Bill benefits, as I could not afford to complete my final 15 months of college. It took me 10 years, more than a few setbacks and frustrations, and a lot of student loans to finally get my degree. Now, I am married to an officer, who was also a junior enlisted airman. Yes, officers make more money. But, not all officers are rolling in dough. We are still paying off my student loans as well as his. We did not get free rides to college or have parents who could help us out. My outrage over the program changes has everything to do with what was promised versus what was delivered to spouses, the manner in which the changes were announced, and the assumption that spouses will do just fine with an associates degree, which in today’s world, is unrealistic.

      On a side note, I personally don’t define myself in terms of my spouse’s education. His degree does not have anything to do with my career. As a matter of fact, I am more educated than he is, yet my career took three steps back when we PCS’d–I cannot find a decent job where we are currently stationed.

      I wish you the best of luck with your educational pursuits. There are numerous organizations that award scholarships to military spouses–some are based soley on need while others are competitive in nature. Given past changes to MyCAA and current budget issues, I would suggest to anyone who qualifies under the new rules to take advantage of the program, however pared down it is, before it disappears completely.

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