SASC Recommends Reduction to MyCAA Funding

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) met last week for the second markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA FY12). The SASC offered $21 billion in additional cuts. A full summary of the cuts is available here.

One provision has caught the attention of military spouses – a reduction in funding for the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA). The bill reduces funding for the program by $120 million. This reduction was offered by the Department of Defense (DoD) although the President’s budget request included $190 million for the program. DoD has indicated that as a result of the redesigned program, only $70 million is needed for fiscal year 2012.

Is this really a reduction in funds? For FY11, 30,000 military spouses received $54 million in financial assistance - $12 million less than the budgeted amount. DoD allocated additional funds for the spouses who were still eligible before the new guidelines took effect on October 25, 2010. Spouses who were previously eligible when the program was open to all military spouses had to continue to use any available funds for classes with a start date of January 15, 2011. This coming fiscal year, FY12, is the first year the program will fully operate under the revamped guidelines, which is a decrease in the eligible population.

Additionally, as reported in the Military Time’s article Majority Enrolled in Spouse Career Program Haven’t Used Benefits, fewer than half of the 70,000 eligible military spouses enrolled in MyCAA have used their financial assistance benefit. (For current eligibility guidelines, click here). Eligible military spouses didn’t use all of the funding allocated for the MyCAA program last year. And even those military spouses who are enrolled in MyCAA didn’t use their benefit. Congress is not likely to continue to provide a high level of funding if the money is not used. Last year, if only $54 million of funds were used then a request of $70 million is actually an increase for 2012.

Click here for more information on Spouse Education and Employment.

We think the real question is why are those who are eligible and enrolled in the program not using the funds? And, if additional funding is available, does this mean the MyCAA program can be reinstated to its original form? What are your thoughts and ideas?

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