The annual calendar year cap for the Foundation Education Grant (FEG) and the Vander Putten Education Grant (VPEG) will change beginning with the next gift monies received from the Foundation. The Foundation Education Grant annual cap will be $500 vice the current $350 and the Vander Putten Education Grant will be $250 vice $500. The change is due to the overall funding levels of the grants. The FEG is typically funded at a $200,000 level and the VPEG is typically funded at a $20,000 level. However, the larger grant had a smaller cap than the smaller grant. It was creating a situation in which there was still FEG money available at the same time the VPEG was flooded with requests five times greater than the grant amount.
The grants are offered on a first come, first served basis. The process is such that when an application is received the amount requested is first drawn from the FEG money. If a member has reached their FEG cap, then the money is drawn from the VPEG. The Foundation has agreed to the annual cap changes.
Funding amounts will be tracked at the Institute. The first $500 of assistance in a calendar year will be drawn from the FEG. Up to an additional $250 will be drawn from the VPEG fund. Obviously, funding is based on availability. The Foundation does tremendous work for the Coast Guard and the voluntary education program. It is possible to give to the Foundation during the Combined Federal Campaign.
The December deadline to send grant requests to the Institute will be eliminated. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Further, the Institute will no longer return unfunded applications at the end of the year. Rather, it will hold them until money is received and the request can be fulfilled or UNTIL one year from receipt passes. If one year passes from receipt of the application, the application will be shredded at the Institute.
The application rollover from calendar year to calendar year should not be seen as an opportunity to apply for more than $750 in assistance on one application. Once a member reaches the total annual cap of $750, the application will be considered fully processes. For example, if a member applies for a $1,500 reimbursement on one application, we will fund it up to $750.00. The application will then be considered fully processed and will not be held into the next year for further processing.
A best practice to pass along, ESOs should be on the unit check out list. As part of that check out, the ESO should ask members if they have grant applications with the Coast Guard. If they do, they should notify the Tuition Assistance and Grants Division at the Institute of their address change. Each year, we have checks misdirected because of PCS transfers.
An additional best practice is for members to make copies of their applications including receipts.
All other aspects of the program remain the same. The Institute worked with feedback from the Education Advisory Council to reduce the paperwork for the grant applications and refine the grant application process. I am grateful for their assistance.
A quick update on the spouse grant that so many of you responded to last year...the Foundation has worked very hard to make it a reality. I feel very confident that it will be in place by FY12. We are working on the policies, process and forms. Hang in there.
Official Transcript vs. Unofficial Transcript
Before I joined the Coast Guard, I worked in the admissions office of two higher education institutions. An official transcript was a transcript received directly from, in my cases, the high school. An unofficial transcript, was everything else. If a high school student hand carried a transcript from their school it was considered unofficial even if it was the exact same piece of paper that the colleges would have received from the high school. Obviously, there was an effort to protect the integrity of the transcripts. A sealed transcript received directly from the high school had less of a chance of being altered. That was the mentality of the schools for which I worked.
The same applies today to the Coast Guard Institute transcript. The information on both the unofficial and official transcripts is the same. If members are simply interested in seeing how many credits they have received from Coast Guard training, an unofficial transcript will do. Unofficial transcripts are provided faster and cheaper than the official transcripts. Additionally, mailing an official transcript to a member usually creates more work for the Institute. Once the member breaks the seal of the envelope, most schools will consider the transcript to be unofficial. Once the member learns this from their school, they request another official transcript...adding to the workload at the Institute.
Help us guide your members to the right tool for their needs. If they do not intend to use the transcript for an application to a school, then 99% of the time an unofficial transcript will suffice.
Submission of Grades
Remind your members to submit their grades for the courses they have taken with tuition assistance. If no grade is submitted after completion of the course the eTA system lock out the member at the 42 day mark. After 60 days, then the Navy College Management Information System (NCMIS) generates a letter to the member requesting a grade. This is also a notice of indebtedness. At 90 days, NCMIS generates a letter to the member's command and states that lack of grade submission will result in the garnishment of the members pay. Finally, at the 120 day mark if there is still no grade posted, the Navy issues a PAA action against the member to garnish their pay. A lot of schools will submit grades, but not all of them. The submission of the grades is the responsibility of the member.
We need to tighten this up. Be proactive when you know a test has been mailed your way. There are too many instances of tests sitting in mailroom boxes unaccounted for. Review the test administration procedures. A lot of work by the Subject Matter Specialist goes into these tests. The strength of the Coast Guard's workforce relies upon a valid testing process. Test compromises are very disruptive and expensive. We must do better with guarding their security and thus the integrity of the system.
Performance Technology Programs
Performance Technology has become one of the highest demand advanced education opportunities in the Coast Guard, with 45 applicants for only 9 funded education opportunities in 2010. However, San Diego State University offers their five core classes online.
This 15 credit online program can be started immediately as it does NOT require a traditional application, GRE/GMAT, or a bachelor's degree. Interested members should notify LCDR William "Bill" Gibbons. Furthermore, it's offered at a 15% discount to CG military & civilian, and all credits earned can be applied to a bachelors OR masters degree at SDSU.
Penn State University, Department of Instructional Systems is considering a proposal to create an on-line doctorate in education (D.Ed.) in Instructional Systems and is surveying the community of practice to get a feel of the potential market. She has requested to hear from potential candidates about their interest. The potential areas of emphasis are: 1) Distance Learning and Design, 2) Performance Improvement, 3) Lifelong and Community-Based Learning, and 4) Educational Technology.