Military Spouse Scholarships: How to Help Pay for School
Pursuing higher education is challenging for military spouses, given frequent relocations and family responsibilities. Scholarships aimed at this community provide critical financial assistance to help spouses achieve academic and career goals.
This guide covers the many scholarship opportunities available, from large national programs to smaller local awards. Read on for tips to successfully search, apply, and qualify for scholarships as a military spouse student.
Why Scholarships Are Crucial for Military Spouses
Military spouses face unique obstacles to completing college or vocational degrees, resulting in lower educational attainment than the general population. Reasons include:
- Frequent relocations every 2-3 years, interrupting degree progress
- Lack of job stability to earn tuition with moves
- Need for flexible online vs in-person learning with deployments
- Difficulty accessing GI Bill benefits transfer in some cases
- Juggling school on top of parenting and household duties
Scholarships help overcome these challenges by providing financial assistance for tuition, books, housing, and other education-related costs. This enables more military spouses to develop marketable and portable career skills through higher learning.
Finding and Applying for Military Spouse Scholarships
Many scholarships open specifically to military spouses help fund degrees, certificates, and licensing programs. Useful tips include:
- Search major scholarship databases like Scholarships.com and Fastweb using terms like “military spouse” or “military family.”
- Look for awards targeted at military spouses when researching programs focused on women, families, veterans, leadership, volunteering, minorities, etc.
- Check out spouse magazines like Military Spouse Magazine for opportunities.
- Start early and note all requirements and deadlines for applications.
- Get letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, college advisors.
- Follow instructions carefully and proofread essays. Share drafts with mentors.
- Apply every year and revise/rework essays and applications.
Securing funding requires planning and persistence, but pays off tremendously.
Scholarships Offered by Military Support Organizations
Many prominent military service organizations and charitable foundations administer scholarship programs for spouses, including:
- National Military Family Association Joanne Holbrook Patton Scholarships – Awards over $500,000 annually for spouses to pursue degrees leading to employment.
- Air Force Association Family Member Scholarships – Offers $5,000 awards both for undergraduate and graduate studies.
- Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce – Supports degree completion with awards up to $1,500.
- The Council of College and Military Educators – Awards $500-$5,000 to help military spouses attend school.
- Scholarships for Military Children program – Covers up to $2,500 annually for post-secondary education across branches.
School Specific Military Spouse Scholarships
Many colleges and universities with significant military student populations offer scholarships, especially for online learning. Examples include:
- University of Maryland University College – Scholarships worth up to 50% of tuition for transfer students.
- Penn State World Campus – Scholarships for military spouses pursuing online degrees. Awards over $600,000 each year.
- Duke University – Multiple scholarship funds for spouses of disabled veterans.
Don’t overlook admissions offices, registrars, veteran service offices, and financial aid departments for opportunities.
Corporate and Employer Scholarships
National corporate programs as well as local businesses often support military families through scholarships and education grants.
- Starbucks – Awards scholarships to spouses of active duty and reserve servicemembers through Scholarship America.
- Hiring Our Heroes – Offers multiple corporate sponsored scholarships through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
- Check employers of both you and your military spouse for possible educational assistance programs.
Additional Ways to Pay for School
Beyond scholarships, utilize all resources available:
- File the FAFSA and research grants, financial aid, subsidized loans, and work study.
- Look into GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program benefits if eligible.
- Check for state, county, or city programs aiding spouses in your area.
- Contact military education offices for information on tuition assistance.
Funding a degree as a military spouse takes piecing together aid from many sources. But the effort pays off long-term in career options and job satisfaction.
Tips for Scholarship Application Success
Follow best practices to strengthen your scholarship submissions:
- Start researching and applying as early as possible. Many deadlines are 6-8 months prior to the academic year.
- Have all required documents like test scores, transcripts, essays ready to submit by deadlines. Late packets may not be considered.
- Read all instructions thoroughly and follow exactly. Careless errors can lead to disqualification.
- Take time to write compelling personal statements and focused short answers.
- Collect multiple recommendation letters tailored to each scholarship’s focus.
- Prepare for interviews by practicing responses out loud. Record and assess yourself.
- Proofread and review essays for typos, grammatical errors and improve phrasing. Leverage tutoring resources on base for writing help.
With preparation and determination, you can win funding support for your educational dreams despite the hurdles.
Make Your Education Possible with Scholarships
Cost should never derail a military spouse’s education or career goals. This guide outlined the many scholarship opportunities to help military families afford degrees, certificates, and job licenses or training.
Additional aid like grants, financial aid, and military education benefits further supplement scholarships. Contact education counselors on base for guidance on compiling a funding package and selecting the right academic programs. With creativity and perseverance, military spouses can access higher education and expand career opportunities.
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