Graduate school and service extension

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Hoping2021, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Hoping2021

    Hoping2021 Member

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    This may have been asked before ( and I hope this is the right forum to ask) but I wanted some clarifications. I know that USCGA graduates have five year service obligation upon graduation. (not too sure how many years for other academies, but assuming same or similar) If you decide to go to graduate school DURING those five obligatory years, does your five year clock stop ticking while you're in school? I feel like I've heard people say that you're still fulfilling your duties as a full-time student representing your branch, but I don't know if that's true. How many ADDITIONAL years do you need to serve? I overheard someone explaining this to someone else, but I was confused a bit, so I will use a concrete example. If someone graduated in 2016, his obligations should end in 2021. If this person decides to go to graduate school for two years starting 2018 and ending in 2020, when does his initial five years obligation end? When does the entire obligation end?

    If this same individual decides to take online classes or night classes instead while continuing to serve (but USCG still pays for the education,) do you still accrue extra service time?

    I'm also wondering, but are you able to start graduate school in any major of your choice, or do you need to wait until there's an opportunity in a certain area you're interested in? I've heard that you need to "compete" for graduate school, but does that mean not everyone is eligible to apply to graduate schools?

    If anyone's had experience already competing for or attending graduate school, I'd appreciate some insight and clarifications. Thank you!
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Some very broad brush strokes for a broad query...

    There are many threads relating to graduate school, recommend searching and reading.

    First, the services are similar in some ways, but many variations occur due to service policy, different warfare community/branch career paths, etc., and the number of ways military people can obtain an advanced degree. Most importantly, what's true today may not be the policy 5 years from now, or 10 years from now.

    Second, you don't just up and go to graduate school, especially full-time duty. You apply, and in some cases, compete. The needs of your service come first. In the Navy, in which I served, officers were expected to have a Master's in a Navy-approved area by the time in their career they were considered for promotion to pay-grade O-5. Most obtain it during their O-3 or O-4 years, during a shore tour. I obtained two, one using Tuition Assistance (govt funds) for an after-hours school at my first duty station, at pay grade 0-1, and the second, as a full-time two-year student at Naval Postgraduate School, as an O-3, right on time in my career path. At that time, the payback was 2 for 1, concurrently, and I had to serve one tour using the NPS degree. So, I owed 2 years for the first degree I earned in one year, but had that worked off concurrently by the time I went full time. I was at NPS 2 years, so I owed 4 after that, which had to include a tour using the degree. That was then. The policy has no doubt shifted multiple times since then, and will do so again. For my second degree, there were only 3 "seats" made available to my community for a particular curriculum starting in a certain fiscal year, and I got one.

    Note: for experienced folks on here who wonder how I got two funded Navy degrees, let's just say I benefited from an admin foul-up at Navy personnel headquarters. Before record digitalization, someone had filed the record of my first degree in the file of someone with same last name, and I was nominated and chosen for second program, and luckily, had executed OCONUS-CONUS orders before the mistake came to light.

    Third, depending on the training pipeline length and the rules for a specific warfare branch, the five year payback may not begin until some years into active service. Lots of variation here. Legwork required.

    Fourth, getting a Master's can be done, generally, by:

    - Attending full-time. This can be done using VGEP/IGEP at USNA, some programs out of ROTC, or, later in career, going full-time to Naval Postgraduate School, Naval War College or other service college or civilian school. Most do it later.
    - Attending class after-hours using Tuition Assistance (Govt funds) while performing regular duties at assigned duty station, in approved curriculum. After-hours degrees cannot interfere with regular duty assignment.
    - Doing distance learning after-hours, same as above.
    - Doing some other Master's program, such as the USNA Company Officer Master's program, or a couple of other cats and dogs. (Navy, assume other services have cats and dogs)
    - Doing after-hours degree, class or online, while on a regular duty assignment, completely on your own dime, which has no associated payback of extended obligation.


    Fifth, "payback" time and how it's calculated varies, and can also be changed as a personnel force-shaping tool. It can be "concurrent," meaning if you are still executing your original obligation, your new obligation can be worked out at the same time. If it's a hot skill in demand and the Service is short of bodies in that skill AND they are paying for it in tuition or with letting you be a full-time student for 1-2 years, they can up the time payback and make it consecutive. Generally speaking, if you pay for it on your own, after hours, you can depart the service after you complete your original obligation, unless other restrictive personnel policies are in force (Google military stop-loss).

    Sixth, no matter where you are, you will be getting briefs on this and there will be ways of researching current programs and policies, including talking to others with more experience, so you can figure out what works for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
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  3. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Very simple, if the service sends you to a graduate school (as explained by Capt MJ) you will owe additional years of service. Typically, two years of service for one year in school and the service decides what type of degree. If you don't want to incur any additional years of service, do it non-sponsored, as in off duty and you pay.

    A friend of mine a part time MBA on his own dime (you still can get the service to pay for some of your education cost, but not all of it) so he could resign when his service obligation was up.
     
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  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    :::cough cough:::: GI Bill :::: cough cough:::::

    Good info here.

    If you're at grad school as an assignment your 5-year clock keeps ticking but you'll owe more time (typically in a specific area, depending on your degree, which we call a "pay back" assignment.

    In the Coast Guard you would apply for a grad school program (say civil engineering or public affairs). If accepted to the program you would then apply to grad school programs.

    So, if you were a junior officer and wanted to be a public affairs officer, you might apply to the public affairs grad school program. Once accepted you'd apply to schools, say UGA or UCSD. After completing your program you'd typically be assigned to a district public affairs billet.



    I went to a ship first tour, became the collateral duty PAO, went to a weeklong CG PAO program at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), went to the Office of Public Affairs second tour, attended a 2.5 month PAO course (all branches have their PAOs attend) at DINFOS.

    While I was at my assignment I worked on my master's using the GI Bill (so no additional obligation).
     
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  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Of course, GI Bill too, thanks, LITS.


    And once separated with vet status, many individual state veterans' agencies offer educational benefits as well. Go to your home state govt website, (assuming you might go back there to live post-service or some other state of residence), and search for "veterans affairs" or similar, to see what state benefits you eventually might have.

    For example, look at this link for Illinois veterans, the Veterans Grant. We had a USNA sponsor alumnus who served for 6 years, then moved back home to Chicago, and between the GI Bill and this grant, got himself an MBA and is now in an executive job with a major airline.
    https://www.illinois.gov/veterans/benefits/Pages/education.aspx
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
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  6. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Other military schools without a degree at the end will also cost you two more years obligation. EWS at Quantico has no degree at the end but you still owe two more for the one year there.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Just to clarify, not ALL other schools, but some of them.
     
  8. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Correct, others not all. Sorry if the comment was misconstrued. Hockey is coming up!
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm very excited for my Predators.
     
  10. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    Looks like the OPs originally question has been pretty thoroughly answered, but I'll add my example since this is a particularly relevant topic for me.

    I graduated from USAFA in 2012. During my Junior year I was applying to all sorts of graduate school programs (draper fellowship, Marshall and Rhodes scholarships etc...) but the one I landed on was an opportunity to go to AFIT (basically the Air Force's graduated school) to get both a masters degree and a PhD in physics in a total of 4 years. This particular assignment involved doing 2 years at AFRL as a scientist in the Air Force (I am a 61D, physicist) prior to going to AFIT in 2014.

    In my case, my 5 year commitment started when I graduated from USAFA. I have at this point completed 4 of those 5 years because they run concurrently with school. When I finish my degree in 2018, I'll owe another 5 years (it is true that usually the commitment is 2-1 but the Air Force caps that at 5 years). As a result, when I graduate from AFIT, I'll be done with my USAFA commitment and starting my new AFIT commitment lasting till at least 2023.

    Hope that helps. This is an example of an assignment where my full time job is school. I have no other duties (getting a PhD in 4 years is plenty tough though as I am finding out)
     
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  11. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    @USAFA10s That's a great deal. BS & PhD for 5 years of service.
     
  12. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    @5Day that's what I thought when I said yes to the offer. Down side is my schedule and research pace are BRUTAL, but I'm sure I'll think it was worth it when I'm done but right now I just want a break. A long work free break.
     
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  13. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Af10s: I think there is no such thing as a PHD and five and dive.
     
  14. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    LITS: And my Rangers. Son is a Devils fan and I still can't understand it.
     
  15. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    What do you mean? I can tell you for a fact that I have a 5 year commitment starting after I finish my PhD. Also I should add the program I am in is a pilot AF program and that there is only one other officer doing it at the moment (another 2012 USAFA grad math/physics major)
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    If you're already in, and have graduated, you're serving a commitment while adding on to it, thus not 5 and Dive.
     

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