Military spouse tuition payments to resume
ARLINGTON, Va. — A program that offers up to $6,000 to military spouses for education-related expenses will resume on Saturday, but it will not accept new applicants, a Defense Department spokesman said.
The My Spouse Career Advancement Accounts was established in March 2009, but due to an unexpected surge in demand, the program was suddenly put on hold last month.
The 136,583 people already enrolled in the program will be able to receive the money again starting on Saturday, said Marine Col. David Lapan.
“We made a commitment to our military spouses when they established a career advancement account and we will be true to our promises,” Tommy Thomas, deputy undersecretary of defense, military community and family policy, said in a news release.
It is not yet known if the program will accept new applicants in the future, Lapan told reporters on Thursday.
“This is the first step of how the department is going to address this program,” he said. “There will be other things in the future that we’ll come back and talk about when we have them.”
The department is looking at how to fund the program in the future, Lapan said. He could not say where the funding to restart the program came from in the department’s budget.
“Until new accounts can be created, Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Consultants will continue to be available to provide education and training, career exploration, assessment, employment readiness and career search assistance,” the Defense Department news release said.
News last month that the program had been suspended came as a surprise to many participating students, who suddenly found that they could no longer access their accounts.
“One day I went to sign in on my account and there was nothing there, it was frozen,” Jennifer Hemm, a student with University of Maryland University College in Europe, told Stars and Stripes earlier this month. “The program was very beneficial — this is upsetting.”
A senior defense official conceded Wednesday that the department did a poor job letting people know why the program was put on hiatus.
“We know we must make a concerted effort to restore our credibility and confidence with our military spouses, servicemembers and the American public,” said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary for personnel and readiness.