Recently, the US Military released an early report card of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA). The study examined who is using MyCAA and whether it's accomplishing its goal: easing the unique employment challenges that stand in the way of military spouses. The results are in, and they're good news for everyone. MyCAA use is linked to higher employment, higher earnings, and higher troop retention—just as intended.
What is MyCAA?
If you’re not familiar, MyCAA is a scholarship program from the Department of Defense. They created it to encourage military spouses to seek training for portable careers that can withstand an active-duty lifestyle.
Military life makes finding the right employment a challenge for spouses, leading to 24% unemployment and 31% underemployment. Frequent relocation, state licensure obstacles, and remote base locations all contribute to the problem. If you have specialized skills, the outlook is especially grim. The small towns nearby simply might not offer the job you're looking for. MyCAA's goal was to address these unique circumstances by:
- Steering spouses toward careers that have high demand in base locations
- Assisting with education towards those careers
- Providing career advisors to help in the job search
The MyCAA Scholarship The scholarship provides up to $4,000 toward eligible associate degrees, professional certifications, or occupational licenses. Spouses are eligible if their servicemembers are paygrade E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, or O1 to O2. The scholarship must be applied toward tuition or fees from an approved institution.
Motive Behind MyCAA
The motive behind MyCAA is troop retention. Barriers to a spouse's continued employment don't just impact the financial stability of military families, they also hurt overall satisfaction with military life. By making employment more attainable to military spouses, the military can mitigate very real obstacles to reenlistment.
What Did MyCAA's Evaluation Find?
The study was performed by the RAND Corporation, an independent think tank primarily focused on national security. MyCAA has existed in its current form since 2010, and the study focused on the early enrollees: families whose spouses enrolled between October 2010 and December 2011. They compared these findings against peer families who were eligible for MyCAA but didn't enroll. They looked at:
- Who applied and used MyCAA
- Scholarship plan completion rates
- Spouse employment and earnings from 2007-2013 (before, during, and after MyCAA)
- Service continuation of personnel married to MyCAA-eligible spouses
- Association between MyCAA use and employment/earnings (which does not guarantee causation)
- Association between MyCAA use and service continuation (still not causation)
It's reaching its intended audience.
Over 380,000 military spouses were eligible over the study period, but only 9% applied. Spouses were more likely to apply if they'd experienced a move already, had 2 or more kids, or lived in states with higher unemployment. All in all, that means MyCAA is reaching its intended demographic, though not very broadly in its first year.
Completion rates are fuzzy.
At least 34% of those who applied during that year completed their plans during the study period. These numbers are deceptively low. If participants finished their study after the scholarship ran out, the DoD just doesn't have completion data. 34% represents the students enrolled in shorter-term programs—think certification or licensing, rather than an associate degree. The real completion rate is probably higher.
MyCAA use IS associated with higher employment and earnings.
Overall, MyCAA-eligible spouses worked less and less as the study period progressed, but MyCAA enrollees had a higher rate of employment by the end of the study than their peers. The same pattern bore out with earnings for those who did have jobs: overall, earnings stagnated or declined over time, but enrollees' earnings grew.
MyCAA use IS associated with higher servicemember continuation.
Military personnel whose spouses took part in MyCAA were 7% more likely to be on active duty at the end of the study period than those who didn't. RAND published a plainly-worded summary of their findings and recommendations for the future of the program, if you want to learn more.
Bottom Line: MyCAA Provides a Clear Advantage
But bottom line: MyCAA provides a clear advantage to military spouses in securing employment opportunities for the future. Find out if you're eligible today. Meditec online coursework is MyCAA-approved and available anywhere you have an internet connection. We've helped thousands of military spouses into portable careers in healthcare, business administration, the legal field, and more, with a 93% student satisfaction rate. Reach out for more information and let us help you get started on a promising future.