Financial Responsibilities for new Midshipmen


10-Year Member
Dec 5, 2007
What are some of the $$$$ costs/fees a new plebe(and/or parent) will be responsible for shouldering at an academy his/her 1st and 2nd year ?
Naval Academy or Merchant Marine Academy?

Significant difference.
Most if not all the academies require an initial payment of around $3000 or so. This covers initial expenses such as computer, uniforms, etc. Once they get to the academy of choice, expenses include travel to and from home and the usual personal expenses such as snacks, movies, trips to the mall. Of course the first year especially at USNA there are limited opportunities for these. Also, the mid/cadet receives a small salary that covers some of this. The big thing I would say is travel.
The initial flight up is reimbursed, right? All other travel afterwards is at parent expense?
Travel to report on the initial day is reimbursed to your child. Personal travel after that is at your child's (or your) expense. Now the question is, will your adult child reimburse you for that first trip? :wink:
Are personal laptops permitted, common and popular or totally unnecessary baggage the plebe year ?

Do the SAs set up a shuttle bus assistance schedule to/from the airports(BWI)on major leave holidays (Christmas) or is it usually "every mid for himself" ?

Are there any other major fees the 1st couple of years ? What about fees for athletic team participation/travel...and... formal dress uniforms, are these needed and even part of plebe year ?

Are new plebes "issued" a duffle bag or other luggage for travel as part of their " NAVY kit"?

Thanks, G5
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In the past there was an initial fee of 2500 for USNA. For the next class apparently that is being rolled into the ACE loan that your Mid will be issued along with the 6600 that the Ace Loan has been - this is repaid through the 4 years at no interest.

We have paid for all travel and have "reimbursed" our Mid for his books and school supplies. Although they do get paid, many parents that I know do give their Mids an additional "allowance" during Plebe and youngster year (some all the way through) Some do not. It is a very personal decision given each Mids family.

The biggest expense we have has is the summer cruise which can change on moments notice and cost a bundle in additional airfare and ticket change fees. Our son's cruise was cut short - Navy pays to get them back to BWI but then you have to get them back home. Same day Ticket purchase cost us as much as his allotment for the summer - still had to cover airfare back to BWI a few weeks later for the sailing cruise. (They do receive an additional lump sum in Jan for their summer cruise expenses)

By no means is this a free education! May not cost as much in "tuition" at local or state U but travel has eaten us alive! For this past Youngster year we will have: Summer Obligations - 2 round trips to BWI, Getting back to School in the fall, Thanksgiving, Semester Break, Spring Break, Intercessional Break: 6 round trip and 1 oneway - not inexpensive!
Ouch! Son was hoping he'd have his college fund intact...guess we'll be dipping into it after all :eek: son is selling his car to his brother for "easy monthly payments." Hopefully this will keep him in pocket money (or food money if he chooses USNA!).
Another related question on this topic: will a new plebe need his current passport or will he be issued an "Official" one prior to travel abroad ?
I know at West Point they recommend that all new cadets apply for their passport before they report for R-Day.
Don't know about an "official" passport.
Laptops are allowed...But you won't be able to hook them up to the network. It's a secured DoD computer network, so only authorized computers are allowed. We are issued a pretty nice desktop system and about every classroom has computers in them so the need for a laptop for daily classes it not necessary.

Bring your own civilian passport. That is sufficient for any summer cruises to foreign ports. The only case where you will be issued a US Gov Diplomatic Passport (maroon colored cover) is when you are on an official exchange program to a foreign country (ie. the Languange Study Aboard Program (LSAP) for a semester).

For holidays, the Midshipmen Welfare Fund (MWF) typically provides a shuttle service to BWI for under $10...but at certain hours only. Pickup is the same way. However, chances are a bunch of mids are heading to the airport also so you can hitch a ride with someone. You'll have sponsors and even upperclass to get you there also. No one will be left behind.

Plebe issue includes a wide variety of travel bags ranging from the green Navy seabag, a two-suitbag, "flight bag," small duffle, etc.

Sports team travel is covered by the Academy. You might even get given money (per diem) to buy food.
The initial entry fee of ~$2,500 has been waived for the incoming class. As noted, mids will still pay it, but will do so as part of their initial interest-free loan. Mids pay for uniforms, books, football tickets, laundry and dry cleaning, and many other items out of their pay. Much of it is (or, at least was) automatically deducted, and mids have virtually no choice in terms of what it costs.

There are some options for the cost conscious (or, at least, there were). For example, you could opt to purchase at least some uniforms that were previously owned. And, you can always reduce "optional" expenses, such as Midstore purchases, eating in Steerage, etc. In my day, your class ring (up to a certain dollar amount, as I recall) could be taken from your USNA account and choices are involved there in terms of stones, gold, etc.

Mids get a fixed amount of "spending money" each month, based on their seniority. Many mids live on this and some even send money home. Others get help from their parents, friends, etc. Trips home are on your own. And, sad to say, some mids cannot afford to go home other than perhaps for Christmas break.

Whatever funds from your USNA account that you don't spend over the course of four years, you get/got as a lump sum upon graduation. In my day (a LONG time ago), men typically got around $5,000 and women about half of that.

NOT, BTW, for the reason you probably think. Women had to (and may still have to) purchase skirts in addition to pants, extra shoes (heels to wear with the skirts), purses, etc. Also, because there were so few women, uniform items were always more expensive. In my day, for example, women's covers cost $60 whereas men's were about $25. Also, the small number of women meant not as many options in terms of buying used clothing. Not complaining -- that's just the way it was.

Obviously, many things have changed. The fact is that mids can survive (and some do) on the money you get while a mid. However, I would guess that the overwhelming majority of mids get at least some financial help from parents or other relatives -- primarily in terms of trips home, etc.
Some flying advice ---

BWI is a very nice airport. It is close to Annapolis and it is very easy to get in and out. I think those with kids at USNA are pretty lucky in that respect.
BWI is the eastern hub for Southwest but others fly in and out as well. I will sometimes drive the extra hour to BWI to avoid Philly.

Stewart - for USMA - have never flown in or out - we are 3 hrs away!
Air Tran and Jet Blue usually have pretty good rates. Jet Blue had some bad press but I hear their customer service is very good now.

USAFA - Denver - My daughter flew in and out last winter via Frontier and had a good experience. They usually have excellent rates and Southwest flies in and out of Denver now too. I have heard the airport is pretty nice - my nieces spent the night there waiting for a flight (too cheap to get a hotel room) and had a blast.

Airlines - your Academy son/daughter is military active duty. They should be able to get a break from most airlines. Your mid/cadet should not be getting bumped and they should get first dibs if flying standby - this is where flying in uniform with a military id is helpful.
Booking flights over the phone as military can get you a better rate than booking online as a civilian.

Now I am going to insert a commercial here ---
My kids and I have flown frequently over the past few years. We fly Southwest more often than not. Basically if Southwest is going in our direction I check them out first. They have one of the best on-time rates in the industry and their Customer Service is second to none.
Twice one of my kids had to make an emergency ticket change - she was not charged extra either time. In fact one time the new price was lower and she got a credit.
When you book online with them - if you notice the price of your flight has gone down due to a sale - call them up they will give you a credit on your next flight (good for a year) for the difference.
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Just to jump in here, for USAFA look at flying into/out of Colorado Springs airport. Never busy, and 30 minutes from the academy vs. an hour or more (depending on traffic) from Denver. Prices are usually comparable, and for me, when I'm flying somewhere the hassle factor is worth a couple of dollars.
USAFA - Denver

Denver International Airport is about 1 hour from the USAFA, while Colorado Springs Airport is much more convenient (25 minutes away) with many flights from many airlines.

I've flown into COS many many times, much closer and without the big-time airport problems.

I fly United almost exclusively, I've never flown on Southwest. I see the madhouse that is the new "A" terminal at BWI every time I fly (very crowded).

For the "forgotten" academies:

USCGA - Hartford or Providence are your choices for airports, although they both are about 1 hour away. The New London/Groton airport is not a commercial airport. The Amtrak station is right in New London, very easy.

USMMA - LaGuardia is the closest, but JFK works as well. Amtrak to Penn Station in NYC and then the LIRR to Great Neck will also get you to Kings Point.
Denver/Co Springs - back east here - 1 hour is no big deal - haha.
My daughter went to Denver last winter (school of mines) and the "lack of traffic" amazed her.
But - yeah some of the little airports are much nicer and just as cheap - BWI over Dulles and Providence over Boston come to mind - it all depends on which airlines is servicing them.

Also - when flying my daughter back and forth from Birmingham this year - I drove an extra hour so she could have a non-stop flight - to me flying non-stop especially during holidays is important.

Thanks for the New London and KP input - wasn't "forgetting" them just didn't have any experience there.
Southwest - services Providence not sure about Hartford.

If you have never flown Southwest - they do board differently. The seats are first come first serve - sort of. No seat numbers. You are grouped according to when you print your boarding pass or check in.
They have taken steps in a new boarding system to eliminate the "cattle call" effect. I have flown with my daughter several times and even gotten group "C" and we have never been separated.
For USNA and USMA flying out of ATL: airtran and delta battle it out, so the fares are usually reasonable...with gas what it is, it's going to be cheaper to fly up for R or I day!
Oh but there is nothing like the occasional road trip!

The comment KaMiKaZi made about kids getting to the airport -
My daughter is at MMI this year - 75 miles from the Birmingham Airport - she made her own arrangements to and from the airport at the holidays - I was nervous, having acted as her executive secretary for nearly 19 years! I wanted her to take the school shuttle.

I asked her what would happen if her plane was late etc.....
She said - Mom - no kids will ever be stranded at school or the airport. One thing about Marion - you can be the biggest "shammer" and someone will see that you get to the airport and back.
These kids really do take care of each other.
Airlines - your Academy son/daughter is military active duty. They should be able to get a break from most airlines. Your mid/cadet should not be getting bumped and they should get first dibs if flying standby - this is where flying in uniform with a military id is helpful.
Booking flights over the phone as military can get you a better rate than booking online as a civilian.

We are a captive audience to two airlines that fly into BWI - neither has ever offered or accepted the plea of price break for Active Duty Military. Please indicate which airlines have offered such service as neither Air Tran or Delta do. Would like to know for future reference.