APRIL 22, 2016, GREAT LAKES (NNS) – The Seaman-To-Admiral (STA-21) commissioning program, which provides an opportunity for qualified Sailors to receive college educations and Navy commissions, is soliciting applications for fiscal year 2017, as announced in NAVADMIN 078/16, March 29.
The deadline for submitting application packages is July 1.
“STA-21 is a full-time, undergraduate education and commissioning program open to enlisted personnel of all pay grades and ratings to receive a top-notch college education and become commissioned officers,” said Cathy Kempf, head of Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program selection and placement, and STA-21, at Naval Service Training Command’s Officer Development (OD) directorate in Pensacola, Florida.
According to Mark Gough, deputy director of the NSTC’s OD program, the STA-21 program is one of the best officer commissioning programs the Navy has to offer.
“STA-21 pays up to $10,000 per year for college costs such as tuition, books and fees,” said Gough. “All the while, Sailors draw their full pay and allowances for their current pay grade. Under the STA-21 program, Sailors have 36 months, including summer semesters, to complete their bachelor’s degree requirements.”
All STA-21 officer candidates attend the Naval Science Institute course at Officer Training Command, Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, prior to beginning college studies at an NROTC affiliated college or university.
NSI is an eight-week course of intense officer preparation and indoctrination. Course enrollment is timed to allow college entrance during summer or fall semesters/quarters after selection.
The STA-21 program benefits Sailors as well as the Navy. The average candidate has at least two years and in most cases more than four years of observed performance which assists in the process of selecting the most qualified Sailors to receive a commission.
Additionally, STA-21 candidates are on average older than most midshipmen, bringing a maturity directly reflected in the more than 90 percent completion rate STA-21 program candidates boast.
Additionally, many Sailors involved in the STA-21 program already have some college credit and some candidates finish ahead of the three years allotted to earn a degree.
All of these factors – proven performance for better selection, maturity for higher completion rates, and previous college credit – save the Navy money while producing top-quality experienced Naval officers.
According to NAVADMIN 078/16, the following target options and core are open for application for the FY-17 Selection Board: Surface Warfare (SWO), SWO/ED, Nuclear (Surface/Sub), Special Warfare, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Naval Flight Officer, Pilot, Civil Engineering Corps, Nurse Corps, and Oceanography (OCEANO).
The following target options have zero select opportunity for FY-17: Human Resources, Intelligence, Information Warfare, Information Professional, Medical Corps, Supply Corps, Surface Warfare Officer/Information Professional (SWO/IP), and SWO/OCEANO.
The Nuclear (Surface/Sub) target option is now open to Sailors who are serving in the fleet and hold an active nuclear Navy enlisted classification (335X, 336X, 338X, or 339X). This option is a change to the previous year’s eligibility policy. Sailors who are serving as a staff member or student in the Navy Nuclear Power Training pipeline are also eligible, as they have been in previous years. All applicants must be able to begin their first day of class in the first semester of their course work prior to commencing their eighth year of service. See the Nuclear Program Authorization (PA150A) dated December 2015 for more specific information and all other requirements to apply for the program. Additionally, all applicants must receive conditional release, per reference (b) (of NAVADMIN 078/16), from the Nuclear Enlisted Community Manager (OPNAV N133D).
In the STA-21 program, as it is in many competitive selection processes, it is often a candidate’s extra efforts which can result in selection.
“Do your best in all your endeavors, college courses, and have superior performances on your Physical Fitness Assessments (PFA). With so many great sailors to choose from, selection boards often look for the tie breakers or the indicators of extra effort, potential and desire; in this regard the STA-21 program is no exception,” Kempf said. “As always, performance is the number one criteria. When given the chance to lead, take it. No matter how small the opportunity, step up and lead people, and lead them well. Also attend to your physical, as well as your professional, preparedness.”
Reporting seniors who feel they have a sailor with the potential to be selected by STA-21 should comment on their leadership skills and potential in their performance evaluations early in their career. These comments are highly regarded by the boards, even in junior Sailors.
Kempf reminded all Sailors that are applying for STA-21 to have an endorsing letter from their commanding officers and to include their Scholastic Aptitude Test/American College Test (SAT/ACT) scores in their packages.
This year’s NAVADMIN includes numbers from last year. It states of the 423 applications received for FY-16, only 315 were board eligible. A total of 50 were selected to participate in the FY-16 STA-21 program. Each year, packages are not considered due to non-qualifying SAT/ACT test scores, missing commanding officer endorsement/recommendation, recent non-judicial punishment, missing PFA cycles, missing or illegible submission of documents, and not meeting program age or PFA requirements.
NAVADMIN 078/16 also states minimum eligibility requirements must be met before submitting an application. Applications should be mailed only when fully completed.
Officer interview boards shall consist of three officers; the applicant’s commanding officer may not be a board member and should not submit an interview appraisal sheet. The commanding officer’s personal interview should be conducted only after the application is complete and the officer interview board has submitted their appraisals. The full picture of an applicant’s academic and officer potential can only be determined by reviewing the SAT/ACT scores, high school/college transcripts, and a completed application package.
Kempf echoed the NAVADMIN and said the commanding officer’s endorsement is extremely important, especially the ranking of the individual among his/her peers. The endorsement should contain specifics about the individual’s academic potential, commitment, leadership, service above self, and potential as a naval officer. Commanding officer comments should specify the primary option to which the individual is applying and address how the individual meets qualifications for that option. For junior Sailors with only schoolhouse evaluations, the CO must address this issue in his or her endorsement.
Application packages must be postmarked on or before the July 1 deadline date. The deadline for submission of additional documentation to an applicant’s package is August 1.
Selectees will be announced by NAVADMIN in the fall.
Questions concerning this program should be directed to command career counselors or to the NSTC officer development directorate at (850) 452-9563.