As you know, the Coast Guard Institute provides five main products to the field. They are the course books, the EOCTs, transcripts, tuition assistance, and grants.
In the event of a government shutdown, the civilian staff at the Institute will not be in to work. That will delay the delivery of some of the products as the staff will be cut by nearly half.
Course books and EOCTs are typically delivered within two weeks. You may notice a marginal delay during the closure as key civilian staffers will be out.
The Registrar's Office is entirely staffed by civilians. Any shutdown will stop transcript production. Typically, transcripts are completed within a week. Once the government reopens, you should expect a delay of transcript delivery added to the normal week turnaround time at a rate of two days for each day the government is shutdown.
Tuition assistance funding is provided to the Navy in advance in the form of a Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request (MIPR) and has not yet been expended, therefore TA applications will be unaffected as the money has already been obligated to the Navy. The other services handle their own TA directly and not through a MIPR. There are enough funds to last 4-6 weeks at the current invoice burn rate. I don't think anyone believes this shutdown, if it occurs at all, would last four weeks. The Institute will make adjustments as needed depending upon the outcome of the shutdown.
The TA staff is all military and will be onboard. The unknown at this point is the functionality of the Navy College Management Information System (NCMIS). The Coast Guard uses NCMIS to process TA requests. That office is located in Pensacola and is staffed entirely by civilians. Usually in the past, for example during hurricanes that cause Pensacola staff to evacuate, the system stays online. In conversations with that office, it is their intent to leave the program online. However, there will be no one available to address any server issues that may cause the program to go down. If the Institute finds NCMIS is unavailable, then we will obviously be unable to complete any TA requests. If it becomes unavailable, the Institute will pass the word.
Grants will continue to be processed normally.
Test Control Officers should have already received an email from DANTES stating what tests will be impacted. TCOs at DANTES-sponsored Test Sites, stocking or non stocking CAN NOT order or administer DANTES funded, 1st time administrations of CLEP, DSST, & ECE; the stoppage will prevent administration of SAT, ACT, GED, PRAXIS & DANTES-funded reimbursement of GRE & GMAT exams and DANTES funded 1st time administration of CLEP, DSST, & ECE tests at based-sponsored & on-campus National Test Centers. Personally funded retesting is allowed.
Provide feedback on experience with a college
The Institute has added a link to its website for feedback regarding school experiences. The link is there as a collection point of data on schools. It is the Coast Guard's official link for collecting such data. The link will open an email and then the member or ESO can submit the account of their experience. The feedback can be either positive or negative. The link is located in the Active Duty member section under Go to College.
Changes to CG transcript request process
In an effort to extend tuition assistance funding, assessments of training records will become mandatory for all members seeking Coast Guard tuition assistance for the first time at the undergraduate level 1 July. Additionally, beginning 1 July 2011 all members seeking Coast Guard tuition assistance at the undergraduate (associates and bachelors) level will be required to have a current assessment no older than four years before receiving Coast Guard tuition assistance. It is very much encouraged for members to submit their assessment requests as soon as possible to avoid any delay in receiving tuition assistance.
The new requirements will be documented in a forthcoming ALCOAST and an eventual change to Chapter 11 of the Performance, Training, and Education Manual.
The documentation of these credits may save the member time and money when pursuing their education goals. It is a best practice to first have an assessment of a training record done prior to pursuing a degree. There are very few credits that would apply to graduate degrees and therefore a first time applicant for TA seeking a degree at the graduate level would not need to first receive an assessment.
The CG Form 1561 is the new form for requesting an assessment of a training record, an update to a training record, and a Coast Guard Institute transcript.
As you know, the current assessment/transcript process required members to submit one form to request an assessment or update and then another form to request a transcript. If a member erroneously submitted a transcript request without an assessment on file, the request was rejected and the member told to first request an assessment. That is no longer the process. A member can request both on one form.
An "assessment" is just an assessment of a member's training record in Direct Access. Therefore, it is important that as ESOs that you make sure your members ensure their training record is up to date in Direct Access. Sometimes the Institute catches heat from members for not including training in the assessment when it was not in Direct Access. If it is not in Direct Access, the Institute will not know a member took the training.
The Institute realizes not all training can be captured in Direct Access. It is still acceptable to send us certificates of completion for training that cannot be entered into Direct Access.
In the assessment, the Institute's Registrar's Office researches the American Council on Education credits associated with the training and then transcribes the credits onto the transcript. The transcript can then be brought to the member's school of choice for potential awarding of credits towards a degree. It is up to the school to decide which credits can be used in lieu of taking courses.
"Update to Assessment" refers to updating an initial assessment. Once a member has an assessment on file, they can use the update assessment request to add to their file.
When a member requests an assessment or an update, they will receive a copy of what would be on their transcript. It would actually be an unofficial transcript. You may recall the discussion on unofficial and official transcripts in the last Campus News. In short, an official transcript is one that is sent from the Coast Guard Institute directly to the member's school of choice. An unofficial transcript is everything else.
"Official Transcript" a member would make this selection when they wanted a copy of their transcript mailed to their school. Obviously, the member would need to fill in box 4 as well.
You should notice that two requests can be made in box 2. That is obviously to accommodate for both an assessment type and a transcript request.
Spouses can receive a Coast Guard Institute transcript, but ONLY for CLEP, DANTES, and DSST score reports. The spouse has to provide the test score reports. DANTES charges $35 for such a transcript. The Institute will do it for free for spouses. It is not much of a savings, but it is something.
A transcript can save a member time and money. The credits earned for training may alleviate the member from having to take a course. Therefore, the member saves tuition assistance costs and saves money on books. For example, boot camp carries six college credits. At some schools, that can count for two courses.
It is worth your customer's time to get an assessment and keep it current with new training courses. A best practice would be to have your customer first receive an assessment before embarking on a college degree completion.
The Institute collaborated with the Education Advisory Council to refine the process and the form to make them both more efficient. My thanks to them as well as to the Registrar's Office staff for all the work on reviewing the process and the many iterations of the form.
The Coast Guard Institute is exploring the possibility of becoming a part of the joint Navy, Marine Corps, and Army transcript service know as Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART) or Army American Council on Education Registry Transcript (AARTS). There are advantages and disadvantages. IF the Coast Guard was to join the other services, it would not take effect until FY12 at the very earliest.
The Spouse Education Grant is going to happen this year. It will be a needs based/merit grant of $500 for spouses of E3-E6 members. A spouse only needs to show enrollment in an education program or proof of a course completion at any time after 31 March 2010 to qualify to apply. The potential courses for this grant include those at vocational schools and certifications. Spouses will not need to provide receipts for expenses, but they will need to itemize expenses. The family will need to list some basic financial information. Transportation and child care expenses can be listed as legitimate expenses for the grant. There is a requirement for an essay no longer than 500 words. It should address what it means to the applicant to be a Coast Guard spouse and what type of difference education has made or will make in their lives and the lives of their family. There will be an open application period until 1 June. There is an ALCOAST in the works to announce this grant.
A selection committee will convene to select recipients in June. Judging by the response to the needs assessment, I expect there to be a high number of applicants. We expect a total of as many as 40-50 spouses will receive assistance.
This grant will be a little bit different from the other grants. The Coast Guard Institute will handle the paperwork and selection processes. The Coast Guard Foundation will actually write and mail the checks.
Education Advisory Committee
The EAC is a relatively new group formed to serve as both a sounding board for the Institute and as an advocacy group on behalf of the field. We all see the processes from different angles, but we all want what is best for the Coast Guard and for the training and education community. If you have a suggestion for an improvement, the EAC is a good place to start.
The members serve a three year term. This summer there will be a solicitation for new members to replace those outgoing. It is a worthwhile committee that has done a lot in a short period of time to refine processes and examine issues. The committee roster and meeting minutes are posted at the CG Portal.