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What kind of financial aid can I get from the Coast Guard?

QUESTION: I am thinking of joining the Coast Guard. Could you help me find some information on my college options if I join? I heard that I would have to attend a military academy to receive my college degree. Is this true? What kind of financial aid options are available? Signed, Coast Guard Bound

Dear Coast Guard Bound: There are three ways that you can serve in the Coast Guard to help pay for college. First, you can attend the Coast Guard Academy, which provides a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as an Ensign in the Coast Guard. The only cost is a one-time entrance fee of $3,000. Students receive a full four-year scholarship including a monthly stipend, textbooks and laptop. Afterward, graduates are required to serve five years of active duty with the Coast Guard. You can get more information about the Coast Guard Academy by calling (860) 444-8444 or visiting

Second, the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) offers up to two years of tuition, books, salary and benefits. College sophomores or juniors who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities and members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities may apply for the program. The program is also open to students who attend other approved institutions, many of which have at least 25 percent minority students. Students enlist in the Coast Guard while still in college.

Third, cadets who attend state Maritime Academies may apply for the Maritime Academy Reserve Training Program (MARTP) to serve in the Coast Guard while still in college. Cadets receive full tuition, books, salary and benefits.

To find out more about the CSPI or MARTP programs, contact the Coast Guard by calling (877) NOW-USCG or by visiting

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.