Almost everyone, before taking a fill-in-the-bubble test, has heard the proctor say something like, “Part of this test is following directions.” The same is true with respect to applying for the various Coast Guard officer programs.
Part of being an officer is knowing how and where to find information, knowing who the best person is to turn to, and on your own figuring out how to accomplish administrative tasks. While a full-time ESO and other shipmates are glad to help you complete the application, you should seek their help only if you are unable to do it on your own.
Not taking the time to read the references doesn’t qualify as unable. It will not reflect well on you if you ask for help finding something you should be able to find on your own. Completing the application is a straightforward task. Instructions are generally available on-line in various instructions and publications. You just need to find, read, and follow them.
However, there are likely to be times you find the references (e.g., the Recruiting Manual, the Officer Accessions, Evaluations, and Promotions Manual, and Coast Guard Recruiting Command’s (CGRC’s) web site) often contradictory guidance. When this happens, the YNs in your SPO, the nearest Coast Guard recruiter, or your full-time ESO should be able to help you reconcile the differences. If they can’t, you should immediately contact CGRC.
Your application consists of a number of documents placed in specific places and in a specific order in a green, two-prong folder. The forms you must include in your application are available from the CGRC’s web site. The placement and order are laid out on the check-off sheet for the program you're applying for.
As to the folder itself, a PowerPoint from CGRC provides a couple of pictures of what your folder shouldn't and should look like when you're done. After printing out the check-off list, I recommend you read through it slowly and carefully, highlighting each item that applies to you. This will serve two purposes. It will
make you pay attention to each item making it more likely you don't skip over anything important and
make it readily apparent at a glance which items you have to complete and which you can ignore; this may also lessen your anxiety.
Check CGRC’s web site to make sure you have the most current version of the check-off sheet for the program(s) you’re applying for. These now consist of two two pages.
In addition to qualifying for OCS, CSPI applicants must also jump through all the hoops required by whichever college or university they’ll be attending. In fact, to qualify for selection to CSPI you must first be admitted to a college or university.
This means before you apply for either officer program, you have to apply for admission to and be accepted by whichever school you want to get your bachelor’s degree from. You then have to supply a number of items related to that process when you apply for CSPI . These are:
Degree requirements as published in current college catalog
Photocopies of pages from the catalog or other school publication describing the school’s degree requirements will be sufficient. A print-out from the school’s web site will also suffice. The Coast Guard’s selection board wants to compare the number of credits and types of courses the degree requires with the number of credits and types of courses you already have to see how much farther you have to go to finish your degree. You have to be able to complete your degree within two calendar years.
Statement from college indicating tuition cost and determining eligibility for in-state tuition
You’ll need to ask the school’s registrar, bursar, business office, or other official to give you a letter itemizing tuition and fees you’ll be expected to pay and stating that you’re eligible for in-state tuition.
Proof of enrollment or acceptance in a qualifying school
A copy of your letter of acceptance or the like will satisfy this requirement. This document should be written on the school’s letterhead or have some indication it’s from the school you seek to attend.
Student Information and Degree Plan
In conjunction with the above, the Coast Guard also wants to see a degree plan from the school. This degree plan, essentially, is the school’s acknowledgment that you only have to complete only a certain number of credits in certain types of courses before you graduate. Having it prevents the school from moving the goal posts as you near graduation, saying “Ooops, I forgot to tell you you have another course to take before you can graduate.” It also shows you how you’re going to complete your degree in two calendar years. The Recruiting Command’s web site has a form to use for your degree outline.
Currently, you can’t obtain your degree through a distance learning program via CSPI.
Page 7 (CG-3307) acknowledging prohibition against using GI Bill
The purpose of this Page 7 is to make sure you, as a CSPI/PPEP participant, know you can’t receive GI Bill benefits for the same courses the Coast Guard is paying for. Prohibiting you from doing this is actually a benefit to you since, as an officer, you’re likely going to need a graduate degree to get promoted to higher ranks. Because you won’t be spending down your GI Bill benefits while you’re finishing your bachelor’s degree, you’ll have that money available to use for graduate school costs later on if you need it.
Signing this form will not make you ineligible for the GI Bill benefits in the future.
The text of the statement on the Page 7 should read something like:
I acknowledge that I am prohibited from filing a claim for _________ education benefits for courses taken as part of the _________.
In the first blank space above, insert the name(s) of the program(s) you're currently eligible for:
Ch. 30 Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (MGIB-AD),
Ch. 33 Post-9/11 GI Bill,
Ch. 1606 Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR),
Ch. 1607 Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP).
In the second blank space above, insert either CSPI (College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative or Pre-commissioning Program for Enlisted Personnel (PPEP).