Using your MyCAA funds

Take this as a public service announcement, ranting, or whatever you will.  But it means something to me and I’m fed up.

First off, let me introduce to you to MyCAA.  MyCAA funds are available to active duty spouses (not including Coasties) for up to $4000 to help you get a degree or training or something that is mobile and useful.  Currently, this program is available to E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2 that can be used to complete a program before the sponsor’s Title 10 orders expire.  This can sometimes be used by some reserve components, but I can’t explain it to you because I’m not a reserve spouse.. therefore, I have no experience with it.  If you’re really interested, call them and ask, they’re super awesome on the phone.  These are INCREDIBLY useful resources.

The program doesn’t pay for bachelor’s degrees, but they do help fund licensure, certificates, and associate’s degree programs.  Now before you whine about how you can’t use it for a bachelor’s degree, let me just interrupt your thought process and tell you that I have 2 and the student loans to accompany them.  I have no pity that you are not going to school for free because you’re a military dependent.  You are not serving in the military but if your sponsor chooses to gift you his/her GI Bill, then so be it… but until then… no whining.  Plenty of people in this country pay for their own schooling, if you want it that bad, you go for it.. and you pay for it.  Also, most associate’s degrees can be transferred into bachelor’s programs assuming they’re from an accredited university.

Ok, so you get start looking at MyCAA schools and you’re overwhelmed by how many programs are available to you and the possibilities are literally endless.  Here’s the fun part of the story.  A few weeks ago I met someone who was enrolled in a MyCAA approved school for pharmacy tech (I am a pharmacy tech) online.  Her career advisor at the school she enrolled in told her that her 4-6 month online program at $1700 would get her qualified to be a pharmacy technician in the state of North Dakota.  Her advisor found her on a facebook page for military spouses.  If you belong to any spouses facebook pages, I’m sure you’ve seen the recruiters trolling around.  We have no less than 5 here that like to pitch their programs to us.  Some of these people aren’t even military spouses and a majority of them don’t live on your base… just check their facebook profile.  Anyway, I threw out a PSA to my own base after talking to this girl about her non-accredited program and feeling really bad for her.  You see, North Dakota requires their programs to have an AHSP accreditation and we aren’t the only state.  As of some day in 2013, the education requirements for pharmacy techs changes.  Gone are the days you can just get hired at a local drug store and play with medications (and I can’t say that’s a bad thing).  There are some grandfathering guidelines and such, but alas, the world is changing.  It doesn’t take much to become a qualified MyCAA school, they have to fill out some paperwork (same with the GI Bill).  I actually know somoene who is using their GI Bill to attend ITT Tech or DeVry or some school that they advertise on television constantly.  I looked at the cost of his associate’s program and it was a staggering $38,000 or so.  HOLY CRAP.  I don’t even owe that much for my 2 degrees and I was there for an extra year and I received very little in the amount of grants and such at a Big 10 University.

Not all of these programs will let you be employed in your state.  Most of the time, they’ll tell you that you can’t do that program in your state but sometimes they’ll cheat the system for free government funds.  I called out one that recruits here (and lives here) because she switched universities and started in on the pharmacy tech program again because it has a regional accreditation.  Again, it’s not really her fault, but she didn’t know.  Her new school still doesn’t apply in North Dakota.  They really don’t know what they’re talking about sometimes.  That’s not to say that some of them legitimately know their programs, some of them do… but plenty of them don’t.  They just want your free money.

Anyway, moral of the story check your people out.  Make sure that you can use the programs.  Do some research before you let someone take these funds because you might work your butt off only to find out that you can’t use the program… and then you’d have to redo the program and you’d be out that potential funding source.  There is nothing wrong with contacting a potential employer and asking or whatever licensure body you are required to go through (board of pharmacy or whatevs).

It should be noted that MyCAA does not pay for textbooks… so use your sources but don’t break the bank in the process.  There is nothing wrong with buying used textbooks for cheap or selling them back when you’re done with them.  I did it all the way through college and it made life a lot easier.  New textbooks are cheap and in some cases, you might find out that the book is completely useless.

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