Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)

The Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force all have spouse tuition aid programs (STAP). While each branch's aid program is different from the others, they share the same goal: providing military spouses with financial aid to further their post-secondary educations. The more education a spouse has, after all, the higher his or her career opportunities will be regardless of where the family is stationed.

Army STAP

The Army has two spouse tuition assistance programs. The one that applies to Army wives and husbands depends on where the family is stationed with the sponsoring servicemember: overseas or stateside.

Overseas Spouse Education Assistance Program (OSEAP). A spouse must complete the education program paid for by OSEAP while stationed overseas with his or her servicemember. The program pays up to 50 percent of tuition costs with a maximum of $500 per term or up to $2,500 per academic year. The academic year is broken down into five terms per year. Spouses who demonstrate a financial need must submit an application for each term in which they desire funding. The deadline for Term 4 is February with Term 5 being May. Deadlines for Terms 1, 2 and 3 are in July, September and December each year, respectively.

Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SSEAP). While also need-based, OSEAP's sister program applies to active duty stateside-stationed spouses along with widows(ers) of both active duty and retired soldiers. There is only one application window annually: the first two weeks of December.

Each program may only be used up through the first undergraduate degree. The administrator of the program, Army Emergency Relief (AER), will not authorize funding for a second undergraduate or first graduate degree.

Navy/Marines STAP

The Navy's Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP) provides interest-free loans for both Navy and Marine spouses stationed overseas with their sponsoring servicemember. Part-time or full-time students in either undergraduate or graduate programs can request loans up to $3,000 per calendar year to pay up to 50 percent of their tuition costs. In 2009, the program changed from a need-based grant to an interest-free loan so more spouses could complete their post-secondary education while stationed overseas. Contact the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Offices to submit an application and for deadline dates.

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The Travers Program also provides interest-free loans from $500 up to $3,000 per academic year for state-side stationed spouses to further their educations. The minimum loan is $500. Loans must be repaid within 24 months with at least a minimum payment of $50 per month through allotment pay.

Air Force STAP

The Air Force STAP provides up to $1,500 per academic year per spouse to pay up to half of the unmet tuition charges after other financial aid, such as grants or scholarships, have been applied to the total tuition charges. To apply for STAP, spouses of active duty airmen or officers must accompany their sponsor overseas. Completing an education program while abroad increases a spouse's occupational opportunities. Qualified spouses must see their local Base Education Office for application procedures and deadlines.

MyCAA Spouse Tuition Aid Program

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA is funded by the Department of Defense (DoD). This program provides funds to pay the tuition for spouses wanting to learn a portable career--careers that can be found in any of the places a family might transfer. Examples of these careers include jobs in business administration, education and health services--all of which are plentiful in and around military installations worldwide. The MyCAA program is limited to spouses, of active duty Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines in the pay grades of E1 to E5, W1 and W2, and O1 and O2. The program recently underwent an overhaul and in the process, enabled it to serve more spouses, yet still operate within its budget. Now, spouses have up to three years to complete:

  • An associate's degree
  • Licensure
  • Certification program

Funding is limited to $2,000 per spouse per academic year with program maximum of $4,000. Spouses of Reserve, National Guard and AGR servicemembers are eligible as long as the spouse's sponsor remains on Title 10 orders or until completing the training program. Applications may be submitted anytime by first creating a MyCAA account.

Spouse tuition aid programs aim to first help spouses achieve their education goals. In the process, spouses also take a big step toward achieving their career goals. Regardless if you use a branch specific program or the branch immaterial MyCAA, all the programs are there to help spouses succeed.