Educational Resources for Military Dependents

Spouses and children of those who serve in the military sacrifice a lot to protect this country. We know dependents don’t have the easiest life, from moving far from home to not seeing loved ones for extended periods of time.

The military has provided benefits for dependents, especially for education like the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon, but it’s difficult to navigate and know what’s available. To help, we’ve put together the best resources around the Web to find military dependent’s education benefits and a few that can help with the everyday.
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Starting Your Journey

Planning to go back to school and make use of military dependent benefits is a very tough decision because it can feel like the future is wide open with no direction to get you started. There are a lot of things to consider: from relocating, to current experience, and just how to put your experience into words that the civilian world can understand.

Military One Source and the DoD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program have put together a great list of questions for you to answer and get started using any and all available resources for military families. Before you start looking up grants for military dependents, it’s best to define you goals.

Some of the top questions you should consider include:

The first question will start you on the right path and help you narrow your focus before you start looking at educational partners and education benefits for military spouses or children. For the second and third questions, we’ll briefly look at some resources from the Department of Labor.

Finally, for the question about what best fits with your life and status as a military dependent, we’ll run through a lot of resources that can answer common questions, present real-life examples of others who’ve achieved success, and mentors who can help guide you as you start your journey.

Understanding Today’s Job Market and Demands

Perhaps your best bet to understanding today’s job market is the Occupational Outlook Handbook put out by the Department of Labor (DOL). The pay information is the most recent national average, usually one to two years behind the current year, and you can sort through all jobs based on the level of training required. You can also navigate directly to your career field of choice.

For example, the demand for medical lab technicians is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for careers. Each career has a dedicated page about how to become that type of professional, including education requirements. This can help you turn to military-friendly programs from schools such as Vista Military, to get the needed degree and take advantage of scholarships for military dependents.

If you’re looking for more general information or a set of self-assessment tests to see if a certain career field is right for you, try DOL’s CareerOneStop.

These two pages can help you learn about all the education and other requirements for your career plus give you help with resumes, interviews and finding the right locations to apply. You’ll also find information about education benefits for military spouses and dependents sprinkled throughout.

Try MilSpouseBloggers to Focus Your Education

Sometimes the hardest part in selecting the right education course to pursue is understanding what is available to you as a military spouse, especially if there’s a chance you’ll receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. A PCS can shift your location and impact your career by moving to a different market or even to a place where the rules for your job may be very different.

Your military spouse benefits are limited, so you want to find a program that meets your career needs and can take PCS orders into account. One company that does this is the MilSpouseBloggers network because they go through it, too. This page can help you frame your education and subsequent job hunt in terms of PCS and also gives a little guidance on what to think about when using your military spouse benefits. Their focus is largely on blogging, but many pages offer general business advice that will give you lots to consider when planning your future.

Make sure you’re selecting an education field that isn’t completely tied to a certain geography and that embraces the new digital opportunities the world presents. That means looking for somewhere with online class options in a field that may allow you to telecommute or provide virtual assistance.

The Best Military.com Forums

The Military.com community from Monster operates a series of forums about all aspects of military life, including specific forums on dependents and their educational needs.

The forums can sort a little odd sometimes – a post from 2006 might show up at the top, above of posts from fall of 2014 – so it’s best to search for your specific needs. You won’t be disappointed because the knowledge is very specialized covering content from individual grants for military dependents to locating financial assistance for stepchildren.

One of our favorite posts is a lengthy discussion about using the GI Bill Programs, with a breakdown of the seven different VA Education programs including all of their special rules. It’s easy-to-understand information that’s presented in a way that you can digest. There’s no confusing language, no red tape, and no one trying to pull a fast one. It’s real people going through the same thing as many other military families and they work hard to make sure everyone is getting the help they need.

Buzzing About Business and Education Resources for Military Families

Another great website to follow is Spouse Buzz from the Military.com family and in particular its career and education section.

These pages are filled with general information as well as personal stories about military families who have found new military spouse benefits and want to help you get the same benefits. You’ll learn about little-known resources such as Corvias Foundation grants designed to help military spouses go to graduate school or the latest business grants and awards campaigns from groups such as the Military Spouse Business Association.

The community is strong and the content is improved almost every day. A post about a new DOD military spouse education program that helps to turn military spouse life experiences into college credit, for example, generated comments about what types of class credit could be achieved and what people using the benefit could expect.

Giving Kids a Lift

Resources for military families are sometimes targeted at the children of service members, including the “Need a Lift?” project from The American Legion. This is a college financial aid guide that focuses on military dependent scholarships and grants that can help cover tuition, get fees waived, provider lower-interest loans, or point you to the right organization and service to meet your individual needs.

The guide is around 250 pages, but viewing it online allows you to search through it for general scholarships and even specialized programs from paying for books to saving the most you can through a 529 plan.

Great Forum for Military Spouse Benefits

Sometimes the best advice comes from people who have had the same experiences we’ve had. This makes MilitarySpouse’s careers page a great resource for whatever you need, from a quick pep talk to a rundown of grants and education benefits for military spouses.

You’ll find great posts that specifically address creating a military-friendly career or a little help making the most out of a new base or overseas assignment. They even answer that question we’ve all asked ourselves as military spouses: What do I want to be when I grow up?

Among the best features is its Military Spouse Education eNewsletter, which delivers the latest information on your available benefits plus offers help receiving benefits or making the most of your educational experience. Tips and information come from great military-friendly school partners, educators, and other military spouses. These people will understand where you’re coming from and treat you with the respect you deserve.

Army Wives Talking About Military Spouse Education

The Army Wives Forums is another great resource for understanding and discussing life as a military spouse, while you learn about educational and career opportunities.

The Army Wives Forums is another great resource for understanding and discussing life as a military spouse, while you learn about educational and career opportunities.

You’ll need to register to view most of the forums themselves, but there are lots of resources available once you do. The forum moderators do a good job of presenting the latest research on military issues, including employment and income opportunities for spouses and dependents.

You’ll read a lot of first-hand accounts on what education programs work well for deployments in different regions of the country or around the world. They’ve got a very high attention to detail, especially OPSEC (operational security), so lists tend to be comprehensive and focus on large geographies. To maintain OPSEC, education posts will try to address the nation as a whole and provide as many resource links as possible.

Many users report that the links and information provided have helped them make career decisions as well as seek out appropriate military spouse benefits.

Where Parents Can Get Help with Military Dependent Benefits

The Military Spouse Support Network runs a great set of message boards and forums that allow military spouses to discuss everything from deployment or loss to daily life and how to bring up kids in a military home.

While it is a little light on military spouse benefits for education, there are hundreds of thousands of posts on raising children in the military and meeting their educational needs no matter where you’re deployed. Register and you’ll quickly find a world with lists of great schools that are military-friendly, places to go for help with schoolwork, and assistance when it comes to dealing with the stress of schooling on top of the stress of being a military family.

There are also a lot of great resources on education resources for military families. It’s one of the most positive environments around when it comes to finding and using the benefits that your family deserves because of its sacrifice. You’ll even read about some great services and lucky people who have had their student loans forgiven or reduced.

Understanding Same Sex Partnerships and Benefits

Our military is full of soldiers from every walk of life and sexual orientation. To better serve LGBT service members, organizations such as OutServe-SLDN have been created to provide an understanding of the laws and benefits available. OS-SLDN provides a list of existing benefits and pay schedules for current service members and can help service members understand everything that is available to them.

For you, it can provide help understanding how the current law applies to same-sex couples or those otherwise involving the LGBT spectrum. While much of the site’s content focuses on legal issues and discrimination faced by some of our service members, it also provide you with information on local OS-SLDN chapters that are willing to work with you to get the proper benefits available to you and your children.

If you’re concerned about your martial or relationship status and have a question to ask, this is one of the best places to go. You can also find assistance if you believe your application for financial assistance or education benefits for military spouses has been rejected, deferred, or screened illegally.

You’ll also find great article resources from partners like Nolo that provide a fuller breakdown of benefits for your and your spouse after the end of the Defense of Marriage Act and what’s now available to you under the Servicememebrs Civil Relief Act.

State Resources for Military Families

There are many state-level resources that are available to you. The best bet for finding them is looking to the higher-education authorities in your state because they will typically run an education assistance arm and options that are geared just toward military veterans and the families of service members.

For example, Kentucky’s Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) will help the dependents of service members seek out all of the local grants and scholarships available. It provides a list of specific laws that determine eligibility and tells you who to contact to take advantage of some of these programs.

Look at your state and the state of the school you wish to attend. By selecting a military-friendly school, you’re likely to find a Veterans Affairs Office whose sole responsibility is to help you get the best education available; the education that you deserve.

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