Monday, March 8, 2010

The "Mycaa" Funding Mess

(WARNING: This is a rant. )

In January I registered for a class through UMUC on post here in Heidelberg. I had been lured by a flyer that said the federal government was granting $6,000.00 to any military spouse who applied for it. Undergraduate or graduate work in any field was fair game. My upstairs neighbor had already applied and been promised the money to complete a grad degree. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to finish up my Bachelor's in English which I have worked on sporadically for years now. The recruiter on post assured me I would be awarded the money, though the website where one enrolls was currently bogged down from so much traffic. This should have been my first clue. Lots of spouses wanted this money. And who wouldn't? Why does the federal government not realize how many people want educational grants? Anyway, about a month into my class, when it came time to pay the bill, and several attempts to enroll in the program had failed, I found out the ugly truth: there was no more money. The mycaa fund had virtually collapsed, and those who were already enrolled in the program were having trouble getting their share of the pie. I had enrolled in my class on false premises and now would have to eat the cost myself.

I'm pissed, people. Google this on the internet and you will find a lot of very angry military wives. I've read threads where wives vent thoughts I've had on many occasions...they go a little like this: Why the hell did I give up my life and my goals for the military? One woman advised other women not to marry into the military until they had accomplished their educational and career goals, because once in, there would be no more opportunities for those things. Another woman responded to her saying this was not fair, she also was disappointed at not being able to pursue her goals, but thankful for the opportunity to stay home and raise her kids while they were young. I see the merits of both these rants. The U.S. military has set up a system of PCS'ing every 2-3 years that allows very little flexibility for service members' families. So far, we have never been stationed in a location that had a university offering a Master's in English. This has been a major source of frustration for me, but I've worked around it by pursuing a Bachelor's as a stepping stone. The mycaa grant felt like a vindication, a pat on the back from the government, an "atta-girl, go for that degree." The disappearance of the grant felt like a slap in the face, like once again I am only a portable part of my military husband's household, and will have to fight an uphill battle to pursue my goals. This is, of course, an emotional response, and anger is one of the most impotent emotions we experience.

I was describing the situation to a wise friend and she said, "When we have a good plan, we expect the world to rally around us in support, but often it doesn't. So now what are you going to do about it?" Let's stop the mully-grubbing, Ladies (or "spouses" of whatever gender). Let's do something about it. Write your congressmen. Fill out the mycaa survey on Facebook. Petition for the grant to be renewed in the new fiscal year (beginning October 2010). Continue to pursue your goals, because nobody else gives a damn, but you do.

As for me, I haven't yet decided if I will take any more undergraduate courses. I've grown a bit tired of intellectual bullying, which is what I tend to do in my little pond. Maybe it's time to be the little fish in the Graduate school pond :) Maybe that won't happen for a couple more years, but at least my mind won't sit fallow. I will continue reading, writing, working and volunteering. Most of all, I won't "say Victim."

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the government will reinstate the funding, but whichever, you should check with Stef about her graduate program online. That way it wouldn't matter where they moved you, it wouldn't disrupt your goals...and definitely go with the Master's. You're as good a fish as any other in the pond, big or small.