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Peters Announces Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Expand Eligibility for State Maritime Academies Student Incentive Payment Program

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced he introduced bipartisan legislation to expand the age eligibility for the Student Incentive Payment Program through the Maritime Administration, which provides financial assistance to cadets who attend one of the six State Maritime Academies and commit to a post-graduation service obligation. The Changing Age-Determined Eligibility to Student Incentive Payments (CADETS) Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Mike Braun (R-IN) would expand the Student Incentive Payment Program eligibility age to include any qualified student who will meet the age requirements for enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserve at their time of graduation. In return for their commitment to serve, cadets can receive up to $32,000 in this incentive payment funding over four years to help offset the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, and living costs.

“Graduates of these prestigious state maritime academies play critical roles in bolstering our national security as well as strengthening Michigan’s robust maritime economy by commanding commercial vessels and container ships traveling across the Great Lakes,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will provide additional incentives for cadets to continue serving in the armed services upon graduation while helping them receive a high-quality, affordable education.”

“I support the bipartisan CADETS Act because it expands the eligibility of those who can be rewarded for their hard work and service to our maritime economy in Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “As a Senator who represents a state that depends on a strong Great Lakes economy, this bipartisan legislation will support those who serve to move our maritime industry forward.”

“America’s maritime academies play an unseen and often underappreciated role in protecting our country’s national security and economic interests,” said Senator Cruz. “To remain the top economy in the world, we need to commit to maintaining our ports and other maritime infrastructure and investing in proper training for the men and women who operate America’s commercial shipping vessels. I am pleased to join Sen. Gary Peters in introducing the CADETS Act, which will expand age eligibility for financial assistance to students enrolled in America’s maritime academies – including at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy.”

“Our nation’s maritime cadets play a crucial part in maintaining our national defense readiness and economy,” said Senator Braun. “I am proud to join Senator Peters in introducing the CADETS Act to expand financial assistance and incentives for maritime academy graduates who have committed to serving in our armed services.”

“The six State Maritime Academies are proud of their heritage of facilitating Americans' ability to serve their nation as officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine,” said Admiral Jerry P. Achenbach, Superintendent, Great Lakes Maritime Academy. “The Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Program not only allows these great Americans to also serve as commissioned officers in the Navy's Strategic Sealift Officer Program upon graduation, but provides much needed financial support. Senator Peters' initiative will allow non-traditional students, from Michigan as well as any state, to be eligible for this financial support.”

“The Lake Carriers’ Association and its member companies strongly support Senator Peters’ bill encouraging more Michiganders and Americans to join the U.S. maritime industry,” said Jim Weakley, President, Lake Carriers’ Association. “Those men and women who delayed college to serve their country should not be denied opportunities given to younger, more recent high school graduates. This common sense legislation is long overdue and we greatly appreciate Chairman Peters’ leadership.”

“As a veteran and mariner, I know how important it is to be able to use skills from the military or other walks of life as a foundation for a career in the maritime industry on the Great Lakes or elsewhere,” said Paul LaMarre III, Director, Port of Monroe. “Senator Peters’ bill is good legislation that deserves our support.”

Current Student Incentive Payment Program age requirements prohibit cadets older than 25 from participating in the program. State Maritime Academies have programs to recruit former military veterans and service members, but most of these cadets are too old to qualify for this funding. As a result, older students—many of whom are veterans—are therefore do not qualify for this program due to their age. The CADETS Act would expand the eligibility age to include any qualified student who will meet the age requirements for enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserve at their time of graduation, and ensure that high-performing, non-traditional cadets can receive this funding.

In the U.S. Senate, Peters has been a strong advocate for the United States’ maritime military institutions as well as the maritime sector. In 2018, Peters’ legislation to reauthorize the Maritime Administration – the federal agency responsible for promoting and maintaining a strong U.S. commercial maritime industry – was signed into law. The legislation required a competitiveness study to make recommendations for improving the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system—one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the United States—and increased training opportunities for United States Merchant Marine Academy cadets.