Can Universities Help Military Spouses Graduate?


As a student, I had three wishes for universities that wanted to help military family members get an education:

  1. I wished people would stop asking me what my husband’s thoughts were on EVERYTHING military related on the news.
  2. I wished my professors would understand that although I am not the one in uniform, I may need an extension during a deployment cycle.
  3. I wished the staff in financial aid wouldn’t automatically assume that I am a veteran because I am using my husband’s Post 9/11 GI Bill .

Once I graduated and started actually working for a university, I stumbled upon what I now call ‘my silent mission.’ I want to create an awareness that service members do have families who are pursuing a higher education either on campuses or online.  Not all “military” students are veterans. We spouses need different services. What would those services be?

Our university community is now working on a manual for faculty and professional staff. Since my husband is Active Guard Reserve, we have the luxury (and I used that term loosely) of staying at the same location for a really long time. Yet we do not have a military base within close proximity. So I thought I’d reach out to you here on SpouseBuzz for some help, as I do not think my personal experiences represent the entire spouse community by any stretch of the imagination. I would like to find out if there are some resources you have benefited from, or wish you had during your college experience as a spouse. These could be anything from understanding your Post 9/11 or MyCAA benefits, filling out the FAFSA, financial aid options, financial planning, support from faculty and professional staff, etc. I’m looking forward to relaying your wishes to our committee.

Patience Foster is the wife of an Army AGR, and works for a top tier private university, thanks to a referral from the Employment Readiness Manager at Fort Dix, NJ. 

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4 Comments on "Can Universities Help Military Spouses Graduate?"

  1. Ambthomas | May 20, 2012 at 1:49 am |

    I wish that for the colleges and universities applied their military spouse discounts at the beginning instead of after a couple of semesters for those who are using regular student loans to help keep the debt down. My online college did not apply my discount until I was already 2 semesters in and I pitched a fit when I caught it. But I still owe for the semesters they did not apply it even though I signed up for the university using their military adviser. That is the only experience I have had. Other than that, they held my hand the entire process of filling out my FAFSA and any forms for the university including reapplying for my FAFSA.

    • I'm so glad you caught it, albeit two semesters in… In my case, they only applied 50% of the scholarship I was awarded, and I caught it late during my first semester. Thank God it was retroactivated. Thank you for your input.

  2. My question to you is, what happens if they hadn't retroactivated your funding? In my case, they activated funding for courses that are imaginary. Either way, the VA assumes the university is going to be ethical. It's on the spouse to keep attempting to bring this to the university which really just breads fraud, waste, & abuse for all taxpayers anytime a school decides they can target a spouse.__Please let me know what your school believes a spouse like me can actually do once the university attains payment for courses that never exsisted.

  3. The truth is my biggest problems came from staff & professors who created fraudulent charges against my enrollment because my husband is active duty and had benefits they could easily target. When I reported this as fraud, the professor retaliated. At The University of Idaho, Moscow, I was the only spouse using the Post 911 TOB. If you visit the school's website, my picture is posted in a press release of the school bragging points of success under the College of Education. The Post 911 pays without any requirement from schools. In this case, the requirement is for my husband to keep serving additional years. If you really would like to know how instructors can manipulate the military family by abusing their education benefits, please feel free to contact Provost Doug Baker at The University of Idaho, Moscow because he and his staff refuses to respond to any of my emails or petitions. The university dropped my enrollment without regard to any due process that non-Post/911 GI students are regularly afforded. I continue to pay out of pocket to address this and just want others to know that all dependents need to closely document what the school is charging for.

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