I'm often asked if the Coast Guard has an ROTC program, as do the other military branches. The answer is no. The Coast Guard has an Officer Candidate School, and an Academy, as do the other services, but no ROTC program. What they do have, some might think is a better deal than ROTC: The Coast Guard College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative, or CSPI.
Under this program, college sophomores can receive active duty pay at the rate of E-3, as well as a scholarship for their junior and senior year. Upon graduation, candidates attend the 17 week Coast Guard Officer Candidate School and are commissioned as an ensign. After commission they must remain on active duty for at least three years.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Two years of college scholarship, two years of enlisted pay, and a commission, all in exchange for three years of active duty. How can you beat that? Well, there are a couple of catches, which I'll discuss in a bit. But first, a little bit about the program:
The CSPI is a Coast Guard scholarship program for college sophomores (apply as a sophomores, start the program as a junior). The program provides a monthly salary, full tuition, some fees, and the cost of some books during the student's junior and senior year. Members in the program must attend enlisted basic training, and participate in various Coast Guard training events throughout the duration of the program. During their junior year, CSPI students attend the Officer Indoctrination School at the Coast Guard Academy, or receive on-the-job training at various Coast Guard operational units. Upon graduation, members are guaranteed the opportunity to attend Coast Guard OCS. If the applicant graduates from OCS he/she is commissioned as an ensign in the United States Coast Guard, and is obligated to complete at least three years of active duty.
- Score a 1000 on the SAT, 1100 on the SAT I, 23 on the ACT, or ASVAB GT of 109 or higher
- Be between 19 and 27 (applicants must have reached their 19th birthday, but not their 28th birthday as of 30 September of the fiscal year in which the panel convenes.)
- Must be a sophomore or junior (with at least 60 college credits completed toward your degree)
- Enrolled in a four-year degree program at an approved institution with a minimum 25% minority population
- Must be able to complete bachelors degree within 24 months after entry in the program
- Must not be a conscientious objector
- Meet all physical requirements for a Coast Guard Commission
- Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or better
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Full tuition, some or all of textbook costs and approved fees paid for two years
- Monthly salary of E-3 pay
- Medical ( Tricare ) coverage and Servicemembers Group Life Insurance
- 30 days paid leave (vacation) per year
What's the Catch?
You Must be a sophomore or junior undergraduate student enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a bachelor degree program at an accredited college or university designated as:
-University of Guam
-University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu
-Argosy University - Hawaii
-Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture