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Peters Bipartisan Bill to Expand Eligibility for State Maritime Academies Student Incentive Payment Program Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan legislation to expand the age eligibility for the Student Incentive Payment Program through the Maritime Administration advanced in the U.S. Senate, after passing in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The Changing Age-Determined Eligibility to Student Incentive Payments (CADETS) Act would expand the Student Incentive Payment Program eligibility age for financial assistance to cadets who attended one of the six State Maritime Academies and commit to a post-graduation service obligation 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. In June, Peters introduced this legislation 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).

“Graduates of these prestigious state maritime academies play critical roles in strengthening our national security as well as 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 am pleased my bipartisan legislation advanced that would provide additional incentives for cadets to continue serving in the armed services upon graduation while helping them receive a high-quality, affordable education. I’ll continue working with my colleagues to pass this bill and get it signed into law.”

“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. I am pleased that we could work together across party lines to move CADETS Act forward,” said Senator Baldwin.

“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.”

“The CADETS ACT is the definition of good legislation and takes yet another step towards ensuring our veterans have meaningful and far reaching career opportunities,” said Paul LaMarre III, Director, Port of Monroe. “As a veteran and merchant mariner I can attest that the leadership skills developed in the military are as essential to the sustainability of the Great Lakes maritime industry as the men and women who breathe life into it.”

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.