US Coast Guard Offers Training Program for College Students

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PC: US Coast Guard

A college program through the United States Coast Guard offers military work experience with educational opportunities through the pre-commissioning program (CSPI).

The program is designed for college juniors and seniors who demonstrate superior academic and leadership capabilities. Students who are accepted into the program are enlisted into the U.S. Coast Guard, complete basic training during the summer, and receive full funding to include payment of tuition, fees, books, a full-time Coast Guard salary as an E-3, housing allowance, and medical benefits.

“The CSPI Program is beneficial to students’ academic and professional careers,” said Chief Petty Officer Alvan Welch, Recruiting Office Honolulu Recruiter in Charge. “In particular, it allows students to excel academically by not worrying about college’s financial burden and guarantees a job upon graduation.”


The program is available to students enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as well as the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and West O‘ahu. Both active-duty Coast Guard members and civilians are able to apply for the program if they meet the requirements.

“I discovered the CSPI program by researching the different military opportunities that pay for college,” said Heather Slaninka, a former marine science technician in the Coast Guard and a senior at the University of Hawaii enrolled in the CSPI program. “I was drawn to the Coast Guard over any other branch because it is the only branch that deals with environmental response, a field I have always wanted to work in since I was a little girl.”

While in school, officer trainees report to their local recruiting office where they complete a minimum of 16 hours per month of Coast Guard duty. After finishing their junior year of school, CSPI students attend a three-week leadership training course in New London, Connecticut, followed by a full-time summer as active duty training at a new unit.


After graduating college, officer trainees attend officer candidate school, a 17-week long course in New London. Upon completion, graduates commission as a Coast Guard ensign, and an initial assignment in one of the officer operational specialties: aviation, afloat, prevention or response.

“I’m most looking forward to earning my commission and returning to the fleet as an ensign,” said Jesse Sceppe, a former operations specialist in the Coast Guard and officer trainee currently enrolled in the CSPI program at the University of Hawaii. “Hopefully I’ll be conducting intelligence or prevention missions throughout the Coast Guard.

The next CSPI application deadline is Dec. 28, 2020, and applicants are encouraged to meet with their recruiter two months prior to the application due date.


To learn more about the CSPI program and other Coast Guard opportunities, contact the local Coast Guard recruiting office or visit

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