The Coast Guard is the smallest of the Armed Services, and a little different than the other Armed Services. It is a police service, in that it is not a member of the Department of Defense but instead a member of the Department of Homeland Security. This is so that the Coast Guard can actively inspect and board ships on the high seas near the United States, even military ships without being considered an act of war. The Coast Guard supports its personnel with many of the same sort of educational and funding supports programs for its Servicemembers and their dependents. The Programs that are offered by the United States Coast Guard are mostly similar to other Armed Services programs but they also have certain programs that are unique only to the Coast Guard.
Some of the different programs that are offered by the United States Coast Guard include:
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance- The CGMA is a program that is fairly small, but it is important and one that is used frequently in the Coast Guard. It offers an education program and supplemental grant program for Servicemembers and their Families, up to $160 dollars per year per family member. While not a huge amount of money, it is nonetheless a consistently used program by members of the Coast Guard Family. It can be used for a variety of educational expenses, even for testing such as ASVAB or other types of tests. CGMA also has some different loan opportunities for Servicemembers, but these are loans that have to be repaid at some point.
Servicemember Opportunity Training- The SOCCOAST program is offered by the Coast Guard for their Servicemembers and dependent family members of the Coast Guard. It is a program designed to support family education, in support of associate and bachelor degree programs for not only Coast Guard, but also Navy and Marine Corps Servicemembers at installations around the world. Even though it is a program shared with the other two services, part of the SOCCOASST program is aimed strictly at the United States Coast Guard.
Many of the programs offered through SOCCOAST are eligible for distance learning, there is no residency requirement, and there are a number of degree programs. This program supports attending college online from anywhere in the world. SOCCOAST facilities and Colleges are organized into groups and networks, and each of the colleges agree to accept and transfer credits and classes among each of the member colleges.