Cover: The Employment Effects of the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship for Military Spouses

The Employment Effects of the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship for Military Spouses

An Analysis of the 2011 Cohort

Published Apr 16, 2024

by James V. Marrone, Thomas E. Trail, Christina Panis, David Knapp, Laura L. Miller, Nathan Thompson

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Research Questions

  1. Does MyCAA usage increase employment?
  2. Do MyCAA user earnings increase over time?

Spouses of active-duty service members face additional challenges in the civilian labor market compared with their peers in nonmilitary households because of service member deployments and frequent permanent station moves. To assist military spouses in obtaining credentials or training necessary to enter portable career fields, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy established the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Scholarship program. This report describes the employment outcomes for the cohort of MyCAA users who enrolled in 2010–2011, shortly after the scholarship in its present form began, relative to a matched cohort of nonusers.

RAND researchers found consistent and sustained evidence that, in 2018, spouses who used MyCAA funds had employment rates 10 percentage points higher than before they received the scholarship and 6 to 8 percentage points higher than similar nonusers up to seven years after using the scholarship. In addition, the average earnings of employed MyCAA users increased between 10 and 16 percent each year from 2014 to 2018, which is well above the national average during this period. Combined with a prior report examining MyCAA usage and service member retention, this evidence suggests that MyCAA is a successful investment in force readiness, supporting families with higher-than-average attachment to military life in strengthening the financial stability of their households and easing the constraints of military life on spouses' careers.

Key Findings

  • The evidence presented in this report and in previous research suggests that MyCAA is supporting its target population.
  • There is consistent and sustained evidence that, in 2018, spouses who used MyCAA funds had employment rates 10 percentage points higher than before they received the scholarship and 6 to 8 percentage points higher than similar nonusers up to seven years after using the scholarship.
  • Employed MyCAA Scholarship users show an upward earnings trajectory after enrollment, reversing what was a flat or decreasing earnings trajectory before using the scholarship.
  • MyCAA Scholarship usage is associated with increased personnel readiness, as well as increased attachment to military service.

This research was sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy and conducted within the Personnel, Readiness, and Health Program of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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