Does the Military Pay for College for Spouses and Children?

If you're wondering if the military pays for college for spouses and children, the answer is no. Through the G.I. Bill and Tuition Assistance Programs, the military pays for college education of military members, but not dependents.

A few years ago, Congress passed a law, which would allow the services to authorize military members to give part of the Montgomery G.I. Bill to their spouse or children. However, in order to do so, the member would have to be serving in a critically-short job, and would have to agree to re-enlist. The Army tested the program for a year, then gave it up. None of the other services ever implemented the program.

Even though the military won't pay for spouse/dependent education, each of the services have related "aid" or "relief" societies, which are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing assistance to military members and their dependents. Quite often, these agencies offer college scholarships, grants, or interest-free loans for dependent college education. Each of the service-related societies have their own unique programs, eligibility requirements, program parameters, scholarship application forms, and decision processes.

The Air Force Aid Society Education Grant Program

The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant program is the centerpiece of The Air Force Aid Society’s education support program. It awards competitive, need-based education grants to eligible Air Force dependents. The application process serves as the platform to access other important AFAS scholarships.

Since launching in 1988, nearly $167 million in Arnold Education Grants have been awarded to 109,499 hopeful scholars.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program

The Society’s Education Assistance Program offers interest-free loans and grants for undergraduate or post-secondary education at an accredited two- or four-year educational institution in the United States. This financial assistance is available for children of active duty, retired or deceased sailors and marines; and for spouses of active duty and retired sailors and marines.

The Coast Guard Foundation Scholarships

The Coast Guard Foundation offers scholarship programs for enlisted Coast Guard members, children of enlisted coast guard members, children of fallen coast guard heroes, spouses of enlisted coast guard members, Coast Guard reserve families, and qualified active duty Coast Guard civil service employees or their immediate families.

The Army Emergency Relief Scholarships

Spouses and children of soldiers, who are on active duty, retired, or active on Title 10 orders for the entire academic year, are eligible to apply for their corresponding scholarship programs: the Spouse Education Assistance Program and the MG James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Both scholarships provide financial assistance for students, who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree.

Scholarship applications are available on The Army Emergency Relief website and are accepted January 1 through April 1 for the following academic year unless the deadline falls on a weekend, in which case the due date will be the following Monday.

The Army Emergency Relief (AER) Scholarship program was established in 1976 as a secondary mission when the Army Relief Society disbanded. The Scholarship program provides funding for undergraduate college expenses to Army Spouses and children.