Tamara - posted on 02/17/2010 ( 2 moms have responded )
Spouse tuition aid shuts down without warning
By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Feb 17, 2010 16:44:33 EST
Defense officials have abruptly shut down the My Career Advancement Accounts, a program that gives qualified military spouses up to $6,000 in tuition assistance to help them pursue portable careers.
Officials said the MyCAA shutdown is temporary, but no date has been set for resuming operations. Officials “hope to resume accepting financial assistance applications in a few months,” Defense Department spokeswoman Air Force Maj. April Cunningham said.
Cunningham said defense officials are “reviewing the software applications, financial assistance documents and overall program,” but she offered no specific details on the reason for the sudden halt and review.
“We’re reviewing it from top to bottom to ensure the program is meeting the intent established in legislation,” she said.
Meanwhile, spouses are finding out about the program shutdown at the worst time — when they are trying to request funding for classes that start within a month.
“I found out this morning when I logged in to have money sent to my school,” said Army wife Julie Thornton, who lives near Fort Gordon, Ga. Her education plan had been approved, and she had registered for two courses at Augusta State University. But the MyCAA program regulations require that spouses must wait until 30 days before classes start to request payment of funds to their schools. When Thornton called Military OneSource to ask what to do, she said, she was told that employees were informed at 4 p.m. Feb. 16 that the program was shutting down.
“I can’t use the application to get the funds for courses already approved,” Thornton said. She is taking refresher courses to get her teaching credentials up to date.
When she asked a Military OneSource consultant about what to do, she said, “I was told, ‘Can’t you apply for other financial assistance?’ Where else can I get funds in 30 days?”
Cunningham said no new or pending financial assistance accounts will be approved during the review period.
Without any formal announcement of the program’s existence, nearly 133,000 military spouses have applied for the MyCAA program since it started early last year, Cunningham said. Currently, 98,000 are enrolled in courses or have been approved for tuition assistance.
Although the financial assistance no longer will be available, spouses can receive career counseling support at local installations and through Military OneSource, Cunningham said.
“They should have sent an e-mail to people” in the program, Thornton said, to let them know about the halt, so people could start trying to find alternate funding.
“I sent an e-mail to DoD telling them my problem is with the way they’re handling this,” Thornton said. “It’s beyond poor.”