Air Force dependents and Air Force Spouses are entitled to many benefits and incentive programs. In addition to programs like the Yellow Ribbon Program and Post 9/11 GI Bill, the government is proud to offer many education benefits for Military members and their families. Air Force financial assistance programs are designed to allow Military members, their Spouses and dependents the ability to earn an education without the financial burden that can be a roadblock for so many people attempting to earn their degree.
Air Force Spouse Benefits
There are many different types of Air Force education benefits available for Spouses and dependents. It is important to do your research and find the assistance that will suit your specific needs, as most programs contain relatively rigorous eligibility standards. Here are just a few of the many different types of Air education assistance programs:
Air Force Spouse Scholarships
Scholarships are monetary gifts toward an education that do not need to be paid back. An Air Force spouse scholarship usually covers at least the cost of basic education accessories, like course materials, and minor fees, while some can cover up to and including the entire cost of earning your degree (from tuition and fees to gas and food during the period that you remain a student!). Here are a couple of the Air Force scholarships available:
- Air Force Association Scholarship – The Air Force Spouse Scholarship program is designed to encourage Air Force spouses worldwide to pursue associate, bachelor or graduate/postgraduate degrees.
- Air Force Officers Wives Club Scholarship Program – awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors and non-military dependent spouses.
Air Force Dependent Scholarships
There are many different Air Force scholarships for dependents, each of which aims to provide the financial means necessary for military dependents to earn their advanced education degrees. Here are a couple examples of the types of programs that are currently available:
- America’s Child: Higher Education Assistance Program – helps provide tuition assistance, books, supplies and other higher educational expenses to enrolled students at accredited two- and four-year colleges, universities and recognized trade schools.
- Folds of Honor Foundation – Scholarships are to be used to subsidize the costs of tuition, school books, fees, room and board, special tools and equipment necessary for coursework, school-approved tutoring, and any other expense that the school in which the student is enrolled may deem appropriate and unmet.
Air Force Spouse Tuition Assistance
Air Force Spouse Tuition Assistance, known as the Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP), provides Tuition Assistance (TA) at a rate of 50% of unmet tuition charges per course, with a maximum of $1,500 per academic year and a term maximum, calculated by dividing the annual maximum ($1,500) by the number of terms within the academic year. STAP may be used in conjunction with other education benefits programs and is awarded based on both financial need and the occupational focus of the individual’s chosen course or program.
Using Your Air Force Dependents Benefits
The most important step in determining which benefits programs you are eligible to receive is selecting a college or university that can provide you with all the required documentation. Remember, most programs do not cover previously spent dollars, so you can’t just rack up debt on your degree program and then wish it all away with some nifty scholarships.
Do your research by speaking to reps from the 25 Best Colleges for Military Students (and their families!) before enrolling at the college or university of your choosing. Each school offers different education programs, at different costs, with different strengths and weaknesses.
Some schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program (like Jones International University and Robert Morris University), while others have such low tuition rates that the Yellow Ribbon Program doesn’t even apply (Colorado State Global Campus).
So get out there and do your research. Find the school that’s right for you and get started on securing your future right away. There’s never been a better time than the present. Good luck out there!