There are many resources available to assist military families, including aid for spouses seeking to further their education. Knowing where to look is always the first step. The Armed Services all have their own educational assistance programs. The military services provide financial aid directly to members of their respective branch. VA offices are also good resources in addition to the very educational institutions being considered as well. The VA (Veterans Administration) can also assist with where to find resources. Colleges and vocational schools will already be aware of what resources they work with and those best suited for each future student. One other often overlooked resource for locating educational assistance for military spouses is most likely at your fingertips, the internet. The internet can be a good resource to help narrow down the search and to get basic information on where to start.
Inquire about financial aid and services directly through a military branch or by contacting the VA, educational institutions and the internet. These are the four primary and most readily available resources. Using one or a combination of these avenues should lead to obtaining the help appropriate for each individual circumstance.
Top Sources of Financial Aid and Services
- Veterans Affairs
- College admissions offices
- Scholarship database websites
Having the enlisted family member contact the necessary personnel following the chain of command is the most direct and often effective resource. It could begin with a unit leader or platoon sergeant but the chain of command will lead to the proper personnel. The administrative staffs of each branch will be able to inform and educate the spouse who has hopes of continuing their education.
The benefits of working through a specific military branch include:
- The Armed Forces are a family, and the family of each enlisted member will have their best interest served.
- Each hopeful applicant will be informed regarding who to contact and what to expect.
- Each spouse may obtain information and get material to become better educated about the process of seeking financial aid.
Administrative Support Branches of the Armed Forces are Designed to Help
The VA office serves a multitude of purposes. In many situations the VA will assign an advocate to a family for assistance. An often under-utilized support system for the military and their families, the VA office can help with paperwork and documentation. Most contact numbers for local VA departments are generally posted in every phonebook.
The benefits of working through the Veterans Administration offices include:
- The opportunity to sit down and have a discussion, to ask questions and get information from an advocate.
- Assistance in getting the right paperwork and help understanding the required application forms.
- Obtaining any documentation needed to verify military affiliation required by particular scholarships or grants.
College Admission Officers Want to Help
The majority of those whose profession and livelihood depend on college enrollments have spent many hours searching, learning and continually seeking how to open doors for potential students. Asking a particular school of interest for assistance may yield many options and provide help in filing forms. Sometimes getting financial aid requires creative approaches, finding aid to enable students to enroll is their job.
The benefits of working directly with the desired college include:
- Admissions officers have years of experience and have worked with many military families.
- College admissions will work to find all options available to assist with financial aid.
- Admissions officers continually stay updated with new developements in financial aid.
In Today’s World the Internet has Become a Valuable Resource
Of course searching for resources and getting contact information is a nice luxury in today’s high tech world where any information we want is at our fingertips. The internet has made much more than that available, however, as people can now directly apply for aid via the internet. Such resources as the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for surviving spouses or the U.S. Army sponsored Spouse Education Assistance Program are only a couple of the countless aid resources out there.
The benefits of using the internet to locate financial aid for spouses include:
- Ease of use is obviously the greatest benefit. No gas, getting ready or travel time.
- Expediting the process, by getting more direct information and even online applications now optional the process of filing, qualifying and getting approved can be much quicker than in years past.
- Being able to investigate and collect information regarding availability, requirements and other important scholarship features of multiple programs can be done simply and easily.
Many programs have existed for many years that provide financial aid for spouses, but in the past 20 years there has never been more demand from military families. The result of military families desiring to better themselves has been evidenced by the many resources now available. Sometimes the question isn’t as much about what to do, but instead where to go. Taking that first step can often be the beginning of a beautiful journey, and one that will make his or her military spouse very proud.