Today’s Coast Guard is more active than ever and receiving some fun recognition with viral videos of submarine drug raids and dramatic rescues. Like any branch of the Armed Forces, not every day is adrenaline fueled and you may have time to pursue your educational goals while on Active Duty.
The following covers Coast Guard Tuition Assistance as well as other educational benefits and financial assistance that you qualify for by serving your country.
Coast Guard TA Benefits
The following tuition assistance rates are approved through 2021. Adjustments are announced annually. The rates are similar to other branches, however the annual cap is much lower so if you are comparing notes with other branches, note that the Coast Guard is not uniform in this benefit.
- Tuition caps of $250.00 per semester hour, $166.67 per quarter hour, or $16.67 per clock hour.
- Annual maximum of $3,750 per fiscal year which is October through September. Your annual cap starts over again each September so if you plan your classes right you can make your benefit fairly seamless.
- The lifetime maximum reimbursement is 130 semester hours for undergraduate work and 40 semester hours for graduate work.
- Service members must be on active duty or a reservist on long-term orders greater than 180 days to qualify for tuition assistance.
- Check the list of DoD approved schools. Your chosen program must be at a school that has signed an MOU with the DoD.
- TA may be used for degrees through masters’ level as well as for high school completion. You may NOT use it for duplicate level degrees.
- Once enrolled you must maintain a C or higher as an undergraduate, and B or higher as a graduate. If you do not, you must reimburse the military for those courses.
- Developmental courses or pre-requisites will be covered if needed to qualify for your chosen degree program. Example: it has been a few years since high school algebra, and you need to qualify at a level for your nursing program, these courses would be deemed necessary and paid for.
Exceptions to TA Coverage
- Books, fees and non-tuition expenses are not covered by TA
- Non-tuition expenses extend to things like parking, lab fees and internet usage
- Civilian employees working with the Coast Guard are not covered by TA
- If you have served less than 180 days, you do not qualify for TA
- You must complete TA-funded courses prior to discharge. If you began TA courses before starting out-processing and can complete the courses before your ETS, then you are ok
- Coast Guard Reservists in a drilling capacity do not qualify. If you are activated and serving in that capacity, then you may be eligible
Steps for Applying for Coast Guard TA
Like all the branches you must first be approved by your Command. Contact your Education Service Officer (ESO) online or in-person and complete the following steps. Note: this may be done online through WebTA or paper and submitted in-person.
- Contact your ESO
- Fill out your TA application
- Submit your application and wait for an authorization from your Command, which will arrive by email. Note: your ESO will not receive a copy, it comes directly to you
- Print the form and write your SSN on it as per FORCECOM
- Take the authorization to your DoD approved school on the day of registration and your school will use this as an invoice for NETPDTC. Note: you MAY NOT invoice NETPDTC directly. If you do so your ESO will intervene. If you or your school have issues, you may email: [email protected]
When approaching your Command for TA authorization, keep the following in mind: Enlisted and Officer applicants must meet all requirements set forth in the latest ALCOAST or standing policy. Those who will be reviewing your application will be checking that you have been meeting your unit and watch station quals, showing satisfactory job proficiency, and been in good conduct status for at least 6 months.
Coast Guard COOL
This program, similar to USMC COOL, pays for credentialing of Active Duty Coast Guard. These are civilian credentials that not only help you do better while serving your country and prepare you for advancement, but they can also be utilized in a civilian career. By utilizing paid benefits like COOL, you can have a more seamless transition into the civilian sector in credential-based career fields. These credentials including everything from Aerospace and electronics to human resources and the culinary field. Follow these 5 steps outlined by FORCECOM:
- Find and select the credentials you would like to earn
- Request approval via the My Coast Guard ED web portal
- Pay for approved fees
- Take credentialing courses and receive the certification(s)
- Report program results to your Command
Additional Funding & Support
If you need additional funding for your chosen program, you may use your GI Bill or apply for federal financial aid such as the Pell Grant. Your school’s financial aid office can help you with this and walk you through filling out the FAFSA. Coast Guard personnel are being utilized domestically and internationally in support of the GWOT, which positions Active Duty Coast Guard to be eligible for combat related education benefits. Always check with your ESO with questions if you are being utilized in an individual augmentee capacity and away from a Coast Guard instillation when you would like to utilize any education benefits or financial assistance related to military service.
Review the Coast Guard Education and Training Quota Management Command (ETQC) website where they have some funding and reimbursement programs for education expenses specific for Coast Guard members. Just like the other branches, you are eligible to take CLEP and DANTES courses, which give you college credit through testing. The FORCECOM website periodically features education grants for Coast Guard Service Members. Review this when you are applying for education assistance, as well as discuss with your ESO. Finally, these loan reimbursement programs may help: The Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation program is government-sponsored and can cancel your current student loan debt if you have served on active duty during combat. Programs such as The Student Loan Repayment Program (LRP) can repay part of your current education incurred debt. Each of these loan forgiveness and repayment programs have specific eligibility criteria. Talk with your school’s financial aid office and your ESO about these options and other military scholarships that you may qualify for.
Coast Guard Tuition Assistance: In Closing
The Coast Guard motto is Always Ready. By utilizing Tuition Assistance while serving, you are ready for your next promotion opportunity or for what comes next after service. In today’s military there are many opportunities for life experience and adventure. If you have dreams of achieving a bachelors degree and retiring as an E8- you can do both by taking advantage of this education benefit.
Tia Christopher is a proud US Navy Veteran. Christopher’s writing has focused on explaining military benefits in plain language and helping fellow service members transition from the military. Christopher was recognized in 2013 by the White House as a Woman Veteran Champion of Change.
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