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What is Spouse Tuition Assistance?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Spouse tuition assistance brings to mind a program authorized for continuance in the US in 2009 that helps to contribute some funds to the education of the spouses of deployed members of most segments of the US military, with the exception of the Coast Guard. This program, much praised for its scope, is not unique to the US. There are many other military services, such as the UK Royal Air Force that have similar programs. Each program may have different limits and goals.

In the US, as of 2009, spouses of active duty and deployed military members of the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army or National Guard could be eligible for up to $6000 US Dollars (USD) to use in certain educational expenses. Other qualifying individuals include those who have a spouse who was severely injured or killed while in service. As mentioned, this program does not extend to spouses who serve in the US Coast Guard, though that might change with time. Additionally, the spouses can’t be separated or the applying spouse usually doesn’t qualify.

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Qualifying expenses in the spouse tuition assistance program are limited to education fees and books, and the program people choose tends to have to meet certain standards. The education training must be viewed as something that might allow for a “portable” career. In other words, if people are moved to another base, the education they got should make it possible to find a job there. In fact, each request for spouse tuition assistance is approved or denied based on the type of program the spouse plans to enter and whether the federal government has pre-approved it for program participation. This still leaves many different education possibilities, and study to get most degrees or a variety of technical/vocational training would likely be approved.

For most people, spouse tuition assistance goes into effect with warning that a person will be deployed, and it may end after the member of the military returns home. Again, since the US version of this program is relatively new, details may change over time and should always be verified. Another thing to check is actual amount awarded. While at present that amount is set, it could change too.

Many people wonder if there is such a thing as spouse tuition assistance in the private sector. The answer to this is: if so, it is extremely rare. There are a number of companies that offer tuition assistance to children of workers or they give them the chance to apply for scholarships that are limited in application to company employee children. Also, lots of private companies offer tuition assistance to their regular employees, though the terms under which this offer is made are variable.

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