Financial assistance for education, training, and credentialing has fundamentally doubled to $9,000 for many Coast Guard employees.
Announced last week, the Coast Guard Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM) has established an additional $4,500 for credentialing support, in addition to the $4,500 annual maximum for tuition assistance (TA). Eligible members may participate in the tuition and credentialing assistance programs simultaneously.
The update to the Coast Guard’s Voluntary Credentialing Program (VCP) has expanded the financial benefit to include course fees, books, and prep materials in addition to the exam fees, maintenance fees, renewals, and membership dues that were already covered in the credentialing assistance (CA) program.
“The Credentialing Assistance pilot program reflects the renewed commitment to invest in our people through professional development, training, and support for lifelong learning,” said Steve Keck, the Coast Guard’s, FORCECOM Career Investment Division chief.
These additional benefits emphasize the importance of both academic and vocational opportunities for the Coast Guard workforce. Tuition and credentialing assistance are an added benefit to Coast Guard recruiting and retention, while also positively impacting overall readiness.
“We highly encourage all hands to help raise awareness of CA, with the goal of CA becoming synonymous with TA relative to professional development and lifelong learning,” Keck said.
The increase in financial support rolls out in two phases.
Phase 1 started May 10, 2022 and focuses on credentials related to the Military to Mariner (M2M) program.
- Eligible Coast Guard active duty and reserves will be able to use CA to fund approved training courses which lead to a merchant mariner credential (MMC) supported by the M2M program.
- The training provider for M2M/MMC related training must be approved by the National Maritime Center (NMC).
- Only CA applications for M2M/MMC related training courses are being accepted at this time.
- Following completion of the training, participants are required to complete their MMC credential application to the NMC.
Phase 2 focuses on all other credentials listed on the Coast Guard Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (CG COOL) website. Future modifications to the VCP and M2M policy may be implemented based on usage, lessons learned, and feedback from participants during the pilot. Here are some key points:
- It goes into effect upon completion of system changes to the MyCGEd platform which are anticipated to occur in the summer of 2022.
- The $4,500 annual cap for CA will no longer be limited to M2M related credentials.
- Eligible Coast Guard active duty and reserves will be able to use CA to fund approved training courses that lead to a credential, certification, or license listed on the CG COOL website.
CG COOL is the online tool to find information on credentials, certifications, and licenses related to military occupations and duties. This website identifies occupation related credentials, highlights potential knowledge gaps between military training and civilian credentialing requirements, and provides guidance to assist in filling those gaps. The site also outlines the process for requesting CA.
How to apply
Participants in the CA pilot are required to use training providers that have been vetted and approved by Veterans Affairs (VA) and/or the Department of Labor (DOL).
To further protect members against predatory and substandard training providers, FORCECOM reserves the right to implement vetting requirements above and beyond what are currently in place with the VA and the DOL.
A process will be established in the near future that allows CA pilot participants to submit a package to add a training provider that is currently not on the VA or DOL approved lists. Consideration will only be given to new training providers that are highly reputable, cost effective, and meet all vetting requirements.
Because VCP is for voluntary certifications and licenses, participation in training courses will occur off-duty. Training courses and exams for credentials that are required for your job are not authorized. CA does not cover travel or lodging costs related to training courses.
A recent update to the Credentialing Assistance Pilot Program ALCOAST 177/22 is there is no obligated service for active duty or reservists who use CA.