Gates Reviews Military Spouse Career Program By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is grappling with the best way to reopen the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program to new applicants, concerned that the program has morphed beyond its original intent and cost estimates, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said here today.
Gates believes the program, commonly known as MyCAA, was designed to provide military spouses portable career skills that would help them find jobs after making permanent change-of-station moves, Morrell said. He offered examples: real estate licenses or home health-care provider accreditations.
But in many cases, Morrell said, the MyCAA program has become an avenue for military spouses to pursue four-year degrees and other, longer-term educational opportunities now provided through the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.
That is not what MyCAA was designed for, the press secretary said.
Enrollment in MyCAA skyrocketed in January, overwhelming the system and causing the program to nearly reach its budget threshold. As a result, the Defense Department temporarily halted new enrollments in February pending a top-to-bottom review.
More than 136,000 spouses who had already established MyCAA accounts continue to receive program benefits.
As the secretary considers the best way to resume the program fully, he is wrestling to determine, given the sudden groundswell of interest in this program, how do we manage that interest, how do we focus it on what it was meant for [and] how to we handle it from a budgetary perspective? Morrell said.
Gates must decide: Do we refine this back to what it was originally intended to be an opportunity for people to relatively quickly gain a very portable skill that would make them employable wherever they lived, or what it has morphed into -- an opportunity for people to pursue a range of educational opportunities? Morrell said.
Morrell said he expects a decision relatively soon.
I still think that they should get the money back from the people that haven't used it all ! I have about 1,800 that I am willing to give back , I was trying to figure out what to do with the last of it possibly a business class or something but I wondered if they would do that
New update...I'm still working on getting the "official source" on this information so it can be verified.
The popular MyCAA programs tuition assistance will be open only to spouses of junior service members in paygrades E1 through E-5, W-1 and W-2 and O-1 and O-2, said Clifford Stanley, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Spouses of National Guard and reserve members ...in those paygrades are eligible if their service member has been activated on Title 10 orders.
The career counseling aspect of the program, however, will be eligible to all military spouses, regardless of rank or activation status of the military member. Career counselors also can help spouses identify other sources of funding for their education, Stanley said, noting that all the counselors have at least masters... See More degrees.
Monetary assistance will not be available for four-year degrees. That was not the original intent of the program, Stanley said. Money will be available primarily for associates degrees, certificates and licenses.
The total lifetime tuition cap will be reduced to $4,000 from the previous cap of $6,000. Spouses also will have an annual cap of $2,000 a year, with waivers in some cases of up to $4,000, which would mean spouses could use their entire benefit in one year.
Spouses must use their $4,000 benefit within three years of the start date of their first class.
The changes were necessary to make the program viable and sustainable, Stanley said. What we have now is the fiscal reality of where we are, he said. As we look at now sustaining the program we want to make sure were taking care of them as they move from duty station to duty station, most importantly our youngest.
Sustaining the program and being responsible in managing and monitoring it are key, he said. If youre going to do something like this, we dont want to start it and stop it. This is something we want to continue because its important to take care of our families.
MyCAA was abruptly halted on Feb. 16, less than a year after it was launched, because the system was overwhelmed with applications and close to exhausting its available funding. After spouses loudly voiced objections to defense officials and their congressional representatives, the program was reinstated in March for those already enrolled, but remained closed to new enrollees.
Stanley said officials have compiled actuarial projections of costs, and how many spouses will be eligible. Program costs will run about $215 million through the end of September and spike to about $250 million in fiscal 2011 because of the additional spouses who will be eligible as of Oct. 25. In fiscal 2012 and beyond, the program will cost an estimated $192 million a year.
MyCAA will continue as is until Oct. 25, said Virginia Penrod, acting principal director for military community and family policy. That means currently enrolled spouses may request funds for the fall semester, regardless of the rank of their service member, and even if they are in a four-year college program. But after Oct. 25, the new program rules will apply.
Ok...I was just now dealing with this and woundering if you still had the account like i got it last year. So i am trying to get it for this year and i send the stuff in...but idk if it will go through for this fall semester...I am soo not understanding it LOL!!
ok I called them today and they verified that as long as those of us with accounts and the 6k have the FA vouchers approved for classes starting up to Jan 15,2011 (must be approved prior to Oct 21,2010) can use all of the funds. Also even though I am going for my Bachelors program, as long as the FA vouchers are approved they will not cut me off on the 25th of OCT.
Hope this helps clarify some for those of us that were confused on it.
So you're saying that even if you haven't started school yet, but had the plan and school approved that you can still use the full $6,000? What about after Jan 15th, 2011? Will you get to continue using what's left of your $6,000 after Jan 15th, or will the remains of your funding go away?
I signed up for it before my husband deployed, but my kiddos suffered from HORRIBLE separation anxiety and I knew that I wouldn't have the time, energy, or attention to devote to my studies. So my approval is there just waiting and now that he's in a stable place here at home for the next year I was going to start using it and now THIS?!! ARGHH!
IF you zero out your 6k by oct 21st for any and all classes starting up to jan 15t then they will honor it even if you are not within the new rank eligibility or are working on a bachelors or grad degree bc technically we were 'grandfathered in'
if say after oct 21st you have 2k left of the 6k you will have nothing when the program reopens on the 25th.
also if you dont have the vouchers approved before the 21st and are working on a bachelors or graduate degree they will not pay for anything. same for if your soldiers rank makes you ineligible.
personally i think its crap to cut out the bachelors degrees. an associates degree doesnt help anyone get a job these days. most states to substitute teach you have to have an AA or 60 hrs of school and thats only part time. to be a fulltime sub you have to have a bachelors. and I know a lot of friends and family of mine that have bachelors and still cant get jobs right now bc of the economy.
All through California you have to have a minimum of a Bachelors to substitute. :(
So, Megz, I haven't used any of my $6,000 yet, but I have an approved school, etc. I just have to start a program now and they said they'll pay for it. But, I doubt any program that I would use would use up all of the $6,000. That's really stupid to take it and not let us finish using it--we should be fully grandfathered and not lose it. :(
The MyCAA program was originally Spouses to Teachers. The Spouses to Teachers mission and purpose was to help defray the costs to spouses of active duty soldiers who kept incurring the cost of having to re-certify for each new states requirements with each pcs. They would give each of the spouses $3,000 to pay for the schooling required.
Now, I doubt that all of the teachers that used the Spouses to Teachers program were only E1-E5 or W1-W2 or O1-O2. That seems like a bunch of nonsense to me....the heart and origin of MyCAA has been shredded and forgotten. Or at least it appears that way to me. :(