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Why Join

CSPI is a scholarship program for motivated college juniors and seniors who demonstrate academic and leadership excellence and a desire to serve in the Coast Guard. To apply, you must be a sophomore or junior at a federally designated Minority Serving Institution (MSI).


As a CSPI scholar, you’ll become an active-duty Coast Guard member with the rank of Officer Trainee and receive the military benefits of the E-3 pay grade, including salary and healthcare. You’ll be assigned to your university, where you’ll complete your degree as a full-time student with tuition, books, and fees paid annually.



The first summer you first join CSPI, you’ll attend boot camp to learn the basics of the Coast Guard. You’ll then return to your school for the fall semester as an Officer Trainee.

School Year

During academic breaks and for four hours a week during classes, you’ll report to your recruiting office to maintain your military readiness and assist with recruiting duties. During longer breaks, you’ll get temporary orders to learn and train with Coast Guard units performing operational missions. You’ll also be assigned an officer mentor to guide you as you prepare to start your career.

Officer Candidate School

After you earn your degree, you’ll attend the Coast Guard’s 12-week Officer Candidate School (OCS), where you’ll learn the fundamentals of being a Coast Guard officer. Upon completing OCS, you’ll become an officer and begin the first assignment in your exciting career.

Career Path

When you join through CSPI, every Coast Guard officer career is open to you. 

Wilkes Flight Initiative

Under the Wilkes Flight Initiative, a certain number of flight school assignments are set aside for CSPI graduates. These opportunities provide a fast track into a Coast Guard cockpit.

Eligible Schools

To be eligible for CSPI, your school must meet the federal definition for one of the following types of minority serving institutions. Additionally, to support your training, your school must be located within 100 miles of a Coast Guard unit or recruiting office.

Commitment & Grade

When joining CSPI, you’ll enlist under a four-year contract. If you complete OCS, your enlisted contract will end, and you’ll have a three-year active-duty commitment as an officer.


When joining CSPI, you’ll have the rank of Officer Trainee (E-3) once you complete boot camp. After completing OCS, you’ll become an Ensign (O-1).