Legislation grants 25+ Maritime cadets eligibility for incentive payments

TRAVERSE CITY — Great Lakes Maritime Academy cadets older than 25 who agree to enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserve upon graduation are now eligible for incentives of up to $32,000 over four years, due to bipartisan legislation signed by President Joe Biden last week.

Cadet Rick Ramos, 37, will be among the first to benefit. He comes from a military family and had already committed to the Navy Reserve after his expected 2024 graduation. The new legislation will help him pay tuition and other expenses and allow him to go from two to one job.

“I have been working since I started the program,” said Ramos, who is in GLMA’s engine program. “I can finally breathe and focus on my classes, especially now that I’m getting into the license prep semester.”

Previously, the incentive payments to attend the six state maritime academies in the U.S., including GLMA, were limited to cadets under age 25. The Changing Age-Determined Eligibility to Student Incentive Payments (CADETS) Act removes that age cap. The legislation was introduced by two members of Michigan’s congressional delegation in their respective chambers, Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman.

The incentive payments can be spent on tuition, uniforms, books, and living costs. In return, cadets commit to eight years in the U.S. Navy Reserve, which can be fulfilled while working in the commercial shipping industry. Peters originally introduced the CADETS Act in 2021. It passed the Senate in 2022. He reintroduced it in March and it passed both chambers of Congress this spring.

“It’s a great relief to hear it has actually gone through,” Ramos said.

The change is anticipated to help student veterans in particular.

“The CADETS Act is greatly appreciated, and will benefit veterans and non-traditional students not only in Michigan, but across the nation,” said GLMA superintendent Admiral Jerry P. Achenbach. “Additionally, it addresses the current shortage of licensed officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine.”

Upon earning their licenses, graduates must sail commercially for three years.

“Those men and women who delayed college to serve their country should not be denied opportunities given to younger, more recent high school graduates,” said Jim Weakley, President, Lake Carriers’ Association, which represents companies that ship on the Great Lakes.

“The bill will incentivize more cadets to continue serving their country after graduation, while helping them receive a high-quality, affordable education,” Peters said.

“This common sense bipartisan solution will expand opportunities for veterans and older students who wish to become mariners — a crucial national security need — and will greatly benefit Michigan’s maritime industry,” said Bergman, who was the guest speaker at the 2023 GLMA graduation in May.


Release date: July 13, 2023

For more information:

Rear Adm. Jerry Achenbach
GLMA Superintendent
(231) 995-1200


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