Surviving Spouse Corner: Scholarships for Career Development

By Anne Hartline, Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee 

Scholarships and other financial aid are available to surviving spouses, military children, and veterans who wish to further their education. Before researching and applying for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid, it’s essential to assess skills and interests. Many local community colleges have career centers where professional staff will assist with surveys to measure skills and evaluate interests. Military children enrolled in a secondary school may contact their school guidance counselor or visit the school career center. Once a career path is developed, the pursuit of financial aid can begin.

If students are enrolled in a college or trade school, the best source for help is the school’s financial aid office. Prospective students also can contact the financial aid office of the institution they are interested in attending. 

Many websites list sources of financial aid, eligibility requirements, and explain how to apply. The Education Assistance section of MOAA’s website gives information about the association’s scholarships, grants, and interest-free loan programs for military children under age 24.

The Federal Student Aid website contains a helpful glossary and information on financial aid for military members and their families. For example, scholarships are awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses and generally do not have to be repaid, while grants, which also do not need to be repaid, are based on financial need.

The VA’s website contains an Education and Training section that is helpful. The VA offers education benefits for veterans and their widows and dependents through the GI bill. Special grants that are not based on financial need also are available to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. 

The College Scholarships website is worth exploring for financial aid for technical schools. In addition to government grants, scholarships are available from organizations and education foundations that support specific career programs. This website also contains information on grants for women.

Other useful resources include:

  • Fin Aid, which discusses financial aid for older nontraditional students;
  • U.S. Veterans Magazine , which lists scholarships for servicemembers, spouses, and dependents;
  •, which contains information on scholarships and grants for veterans; and
  • Federal Student Aid, which contains information on scholarships for military families and grants for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Education is critical to almost every career, but financing that education can be a challenge. Education and career goals can be achieved, however, by obtaining scholarships, grants, and loans.