Being a military family can have its downfalls, but there is also a lot of upsides… if you happen to know about them. A discount is nice but there’s a lot more that active duty life can offer a military family. I’ve written about perks for military spouses before. Here’s a list of some military perks you might be missing out on.
- Reduced or forgiven excess interest rates (and a possible refund)
The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to intended to offer certain protections to service members whose duties or mission conflict with the financial and civilian obligations that they may have. Most military families are aware of some of them: protections against evictions, cancellation of leases, judicial relief. To read about the eligibility for these provisions, visit your local legal assistance office.One such provision is that, for active duty service members, credit lenders must cap interest rates at 6 percent of the loan that was acquired before active duty service. The 6 percent interest cap applies to any charges — including credit card debt, service charges and renewal charges or fees — except bona fide insurance.What does this translate to?
If your service member took out a loan or credit card that had an interest rate above 6 percent BEFORE they became active duty, they can call their lender and have their interest rate reduced under the SCRA. To request this reduction, military personnel should call up a representative in their lender’s credit department for their requirements. (Some require an LES, some require military orders, it depends on the lender). In some cases, you may actually be entitled to a REFUND if you had started paying this excess interest while on active duty. Remember the loan or credit card must have been opened BEFORE active duty service.
- Child care subsidy
For military families, finding quality affordable daycare can be difficult. The military offers child development centers (CDCs) or in-home child care providers (CDHs). However, these places can typically have long waiting lists or may not be located close enough to your home. Child Care Aware (formally known at the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies or NACCRRA) is a program that offers an income-based subsidy to help offset the cost of childcare to eligible military families.There’s a different application process for each branch. If you’re eligible, the amount of your subsidy is based on income. We have personally used this program before and are so grateful that it exists. See if you’re eligible and fill out an application here
- Free tax filing
Military families have some options when it comes to filing their taxes. On military installations, they can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. These are typically active duty service members who have taken on a collateral duty temporarily during tax season.Military One Source also offers a free tax filing software called MilTax. According to their website, this free software is “tailored to military life — addressing scenarios including multiple moves, deployments and more. You can work anytime, anywhere, at your own pace. Plus, calculations have a 100 percent accuracy guarantee.” More information from Military One Source here. If those options don’t work, you can ask your local civilian tax software if they offer a military discount. As of 2017, I believe TurboTax and TaxSlayer do.
- Free Tutoring
Students in military families have access to free tutoring via Tutor.com, paid for by the Department of Defense. Eligible students must be in grades K-12 or they can be a active duty service member himself or herself. As of 2017, only the Coast guard allows the benefit for spouses.Students can connect to a live tutor online at any time for one-to-one help with homework, studying, test prep, proofreading and more at no cost. Perfect for those living around the world at different duty stations. Each student communicates one-to-one with a carefully screened expert tutors via text chat, drawing and writing on an interactive whiteboard in a secure online classroom. A student can also upload files to work on with their tutor. No video or phone communications between students and tutors ensure every interaction remains anonymous.The available app also allows students to connect with a tutor from most smartphones or tablets. This is perfect for students who want to take a picture of a problem or assignment and upload it for the tutor to see. More info can be found at military.tutor.com
- Free College Age Student Dependent Travel from OCONUS
Here’s the “gist” of this perk. If your military family is stationed OCONUS, and you have a child attending college, the military will pay for two one-way tickets from and to the OCONUS location. Basically they will fly your kid to their school and then back from school for each fiscal year.
Here are the eligibility requirements per Military One Source
– The military parent is on an accompanied tour and the rest of the family is living OCONUS with them. If this is the case, the student will be sponsored by the command.
– The service member is the custodial parent of the college student.
– The student is unmarried and under age 23. Depending on the circumstances, there may be some exceptions to the age restriction.
– The student is attending an accredited college or school to obtain an undergraduate degree or post-secondary vocational or technical training.
– The student attends school full time (at least 12 credit hours).
– The student has already traveled to the parent’s home on PCS orders. For example, if a student’s family moves to Italy mid-semester, the student can fly to Italy on PCS orders during the semester break. After that, the student will be eligible for one round trip each fiscal year. This means the flight back to school would be covered, but the student would have to wait a full fiscal year before being eligible for military-paid travel again.This travel benefit must be authorized through the service member’s command and be completed through the military travel office. See the travel coordinator on your installation for more information.
More on Military Benefits
- 7 Amazing Military Child Benefits
- 9 Amazing Military Spouse Benefits
- 40 Programs You Didn’t Know the Military Offered. Did Someone Say Money?
- The Unexpected (and Still Awesome) Perks of Military Life