After leaving active duty, one of the most important considerations that must be made is the consideration of future plans. Leaving military life can feel quite abrupt and can leave you disillusioned and at a loss.
One option that many Veterans take advantage of is academia. Education works excellently as a pathway to a “normal” life after service.
State and federal government provide some scholarship opportunities to facilitate the educational process. There are also lots of private scholarships that are geared towards veterans. These can be institutional or through a private firm.
But, What About Military Spouses?
Military spouses often have to endure the short end of several straws. They move around with their spouse throughout their career and then are abruptly stripped of the resources they knew all along.
While there are resources to support Veterans efforts to stabilize a life after service, spouses are often not as openly supported.
Luckily, there are resources for military spouses. Yes, even scholarships for education.
In this guide, we will reveal some of the best military spouse scholarships and educational assistance programs available today. They can be tricky to find in the midst of scholarships made specifically for veterans – but we did some digging for you.
Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
Not all Veteran’s spouses will meet eligibility requirements for Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance benefits. DEA funds are designated for both spouses and children of service members.
To be eligible for this particular program, recipients must be the spouse or child of a veteran or service member who
The DEA benefit program is a fairly flexible program as compared to other military spouse scholarships. Funds can be used towards degree programs and certificate programs. Furthermore, the benefits can be used for apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training.
Those who are accepted to the program receive benefits on a monthly basis. The largest payouts are up to $1,041 monthly for full-time training.
Air Force Aid Society General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program
The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant program is a scholarship grant offered by the Air Force Aid Society. The eligibility for grants under this program is fairly wide-reaching, but for spouses it is more limited. It includes: spouses of active-duty service members and widows or widowers.
The amount awarded to recipients of the Air Force Aid Society General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant receive variable amounts based on their financial need. Grants can be between $500 and $4,000 yearly. Recipients must be enrolled in classes at a college or university in what is considered a “full-time” program and must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Receiving this particular military spouse scholarship comes with an additional level of connection to the armed forces. Each scholarship awarded by the Air Force Aid Society as a General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant comes with a namesake of an organization or individual who has shown exemplary service to the Air Force. Recipients even receive biographical information on the namesake their scholarship award carries.
Awards form this particular military spouse scholarship are not given on a consistently recurring basis. Anyone hoping to use these benefits will have to reapply to the program annually.
Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Scholarships
The Army Aviation Association of America is an organization committed to the interests of Army Aviation. A subgroup of the organization is the AAAA Scholarship Foundation. The mission of this group is, “Supporting AAAA Families.”
The AAAA Scholarship Foundation provides educational scholarships to relatives of deceased AAAA members. Beyond spouses, awards are even given to unmarried siblings, children, and grandchildren of members or deceased members.
The foundation was founded in 1963, and since then has awarded over $7 million in scholarship funding. Funds are awarded by the foundation based on both academic and personal merit. Awarded funds are only to be used at an accredited college or university.
The 501C-3 organization received funding through various programs including corporate matching programs, heritage matching programs and other donor programs.
Army Emergency Relief:
Army Emergency Relief is an organization that was started in 1942. The focus of the group was to be, “Collecting and holding funds to relieve distress of members of the Army and their dependents.” That same year the group was incorporated by the Secretary of War and Chief of Staff of the Army.
By 1973 the group had an education loan program and by 1977 the assistance offered by Army Emergency Relief had extended even further to food, utilities, and essential vehicle repair – and yes, education scholarships.
Army Relief Society has previously charged themselves with the mission of providing financial assistance to widows/widowers and orphans of deceased Regular Army personnel. Subsequent to the merger, Army Emergency Relief adopted the same cause.
Scholarships from Army Emergency Relief can be awarded to the spouse of an active duty soldier, the spouse of a retired soldier, or the widow/widower of a soldier who died while on active duty or a soldier who is retired. The eligibility requirements for this particular military spouse scholarship cover almost all military spouses.
Students that receive a scholarship from Army Emergency Relief must reapply every year but are eligible for benefits for four consecutive years. Optionally, recipients can receive benefits for up to eight years if they attend school as a part-time student. Throughout the time in school, recipients of scholarship awards from Army Emergency Relief must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Military spouse scholarships from Army Emergency Relief work beautifully for the student. They are meant to supplement any gap between funding from other sources, like the G.I. Bill or VA Benefits, and the cost of tuition.
If the student receives scholarship funding from other sources, they may not receive the full benefits of an Army Emergency Relief scholarship – only what they need to make up the gap. The amount necessary is determined by each institution’s financial aid office.
This policy is likely in place so that as many students as possible can receive the educational benefits of an Army Emergency Relief scholarship.
Folds of Honor Foundation Scholarship
Folds of Honor is a 501C-3 nonprofit organization that aims to provide educational scholarships for dependents of fallen soldiers or soldiers that were disabled while serving. The scholarships are given to both spouses and children – in fact, older recipients can withhold the funds for use by a younger dependent later in life.
Scholarship funds awarded by Folds of Honor are determined in a method similar to the previously mentioned military spouse scholarship from Army Emergency Relief. The scholarships can be awarded in amounts up to $5,000 and are meant to fill the gap between other scholarships and the total cost of attendance.
The benefits from a Folds of Honor Foundation scholarship can be used at any U.S. accredited college or university and can even be used at a trade or technical school, so long as the student does not already hold an undergraduate degree.
Additionally, recipients of scholarship funding must be under the age of 24 and unmarried.
Hope for the Warriors - Spouse/Caregiver Scholarships
Hope for the Warriors offers several scholarship opportunities for spouses and caregivers for active-duty soldiers, retired soldiers, and fallen soldiers. The mission of Hope for the Warriors is to restore a sense of normalcy for soldiers returning from battle and their families.
The scholarship programs offered for spouses and caregivers by Hope for the Warriors are:
The organization recognizes the role that a spouse and caregiver can play in the financial well-being of the family structure, and wants to make financial success more accessible through the means of an education.
“The Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship Program identifies, recognizes, and rewards post-9/11 spouses/caregivers for their strength, fidelity, and resolve despite adversity. Scholarships aid in continued education at a reputable, accredited university, college, or trade school for spouses/caregivers as they assume critical roles in the financial well-being of their families.”
National Military Family Association -
The National Military Family Association has been serving military families for 48 years. The group was founded by a small team of military wives who were headstrong in ensuring that dependents of military service members were taken care of.
Since then, they have affected policy change, begun numerous benefit programs, and found multiple other ways to pursue the best interests of military service member dependents.
One such way is through their military spouse scholarships. These scholarships are quite generous and are applicable for many different usages. For example, the National Military Family Association awards up to $500 for career funding, $1,000 for degrees, $2,500 for clinical supervision towards licensure in the mental health profession, and even up to $1,000 to assist military spouses in starting their own businesses – including LLCs, entrepreneurs, direct sales, franchises, contractors, and other for-profit ventures.
These funds come in the form of a one-time payment via mailed check. A unique characteristic of this program of military spouse scholarships is that there is no minimum GPA requirement of full-time status requirement. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times applicants are allowed to apply for the scholarship.
To be eligible for these scholarship funds, the applicant must be the spouse of a retired, medically retired, wounded, or fallen service member. Divorced spouses are also eligible for these benefits, but only if they receive 20/20/20 benefits.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart -
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is another military advocacy group offering a military spouse scholarship program. However, the bounds of the Military Order of the Purple Hear scholarship program extend beyond just spouses.
Spouses that are eligible for scholarships from the Military Order of the Purple Heart include spouses of Purple Heart recipients that are members of the organization and the spouse, widow/widower, or direct lineal descendant of a service member killed-in-action or who died of wounds.
Scholarship amounts vary but can be used for relevant education-related costs including tuition, books, incidental fees, room and board, and other direct costs associated with higher education. Students can receive the scholarship up to two times, but the years must be non-consecutive.
To maintain the scholarship the student must display the capability of reaching a 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 grading scale and must be enrolled in enough hours to be recognized as a full-time student by their particular institution.
Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans and Service Members
This Florida-specific scholarship is an outreach to children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans and service members. For spouses, the program is specifically for un-remarried spouses of deceased or disabled veterans and service members.
According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, to be eligible for the military spouse scholarship, spouses of disabled veterans must:
Additionally, the eligibility requirements specific requirements for spouses of deceased veterans, noting that the spouse will:
While most military spouse scholarships can only be applied to public institutions, this program is different. The amount of scholarships meant to be applied to a public institution are based on the financial need and cost of tuition. Students can also choose to apply scholarship funds to a private institution, in which case the amount is calculated based on the cost of attending a public institution.
The scholarship will fund 110 percent of an undergraduate degree and there is no need for students to reapply. As long as the student maintains a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and completes at least six credit hours per semester, they are automatically considered for renewal.
Wings Over America - Scholarship Foundation
Wings Over America is a group vested in the interests of dependents of active-duty, retired, and deceased members of the U.S. Navy. The foundation is funded privately and through corporate contributions.
Recipients for the scholarship offered by Wings Over America are selected according to, “scholastic merit, community service, extra-curricular activities and character.” It is open to dependents of active-duty, retired, ADSW, honorably discharged, or deceased U.S. Naval Air Forces members.
Wings Over America awards 50 scholars annually in the form of renewable scholarships and annual scholarships. They also have a list of administered scholarships for specific Navy commands or communities.
Military Spouse Scholarships are Accessible
There are plenty of opportunities out there for spouses of retired or deceased service members to further their education. Military families make so many sacrifices – that’s why so many private and public institutions are doing their part to give back.
We know how hard it can be to settle into life after active-duty or reserve service.
It is difficult to fully and truly repay the sacrifice that our military service members make, but it is a way to show thankfulness regardless. The burdens carried by veterans are many, but scholarships are a way to ease the financial impact of those burdens.
If you are a veteran’s spouse or other dependent who is hopeful that the path to education will be the path to normalcy, we hope this guide has shown you the amount of resources available for you.
We also understand that traditional education is not the only route to an integrated life after service. Whether you are looking for a scholarship to further your education, learn a trade, start a business, or invest into entrepreneurship, there is financial assistance out there for you.