MyCAA has been getting a bad rap lately. It is not MyCAA that we should be frustrated with, rather it is the companies, mainly for-profit institutions, who are taking advantage of an amazing program. This is a great program and if you qualify, I would encourage you to take advantage of the program, but spend some time to do your own research.
What is MyCAA?
MyCAA stands for “My Career Advancement Account.” It provides up to $4,000 in scholarships for spouses of Service Members with ranks E1-5, O1-2, or WO1-2. MyCAA will pay for tuition and other education courses for programs leading to an associate degree, license, certificate, or certification at an accredited college, university, or technical school in the United States. It will also pay for approved testing. Find out more here.
Is it really free?
While it will not cost you any money, it will cost your valuable time and effort. In addition to your time and effort, you may incur costs such as child care, gas, and similar expenses.
Additional time should be spent for career exploration to be sure you want a career in the field (available free through Spouse Education and Career Opportunities who manages the program). You do not want to spend all the effort and your valuable time just to find out the career is not for you.
How do I know if a program is a good program?
This is the biggest challenge for many. I know spouses who have spent a lot of time and effort just to find out a program will do nothing for them. You want to find a program that has a good reputation. It is important that part of the time you invest includes researching potential programs to make sure they are legitimate and reputable.
- Start by a simple Google search. Look for student ratings and evaluations.
- Visit the program and talk to students attending, as well as graduates of the program. What is the placement rate for graduates of the program?
- Be sure the school is accredited, or MyCAA will not cover the program. If you are considering a program through a community college or university, you want it to be regionally accredited rather than just nationally, especially if you want to eventually continue on past an associate’s degree. This information can be found on the school’s website.
- Talk to people in the career field you are entering. Will the program help you? Is it valued in the field? Is the program you are considering reputable? Is this the best program to go through, or would another provide better opportunities.
- Make sure the program is right for you (see my blog “Top 8 Things to Consider when Searching for a College”).
This is a great program that can provide you a leg up in a career field. Do not jump in just because it is free, rather take the time to make sure the program is right for you and has a good reputation in your chosen field.