Skip to content

Peters Bipartisan Bill to Support Maritime Academy Students Passes Senate

Peters Bill Expands Eligibility for State Maritime Academies Student Incentive Payment Program; Michigan Home to One of Six National Maritime Academies

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 has passed the U.S. Senate. 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. One of the six academies – the Great Lakes Maritime Academy – is based at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

“Our national security, commerce and trade are stronger thanks to the graduates of these prestigious state maritime academies who bolster 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 proud my bipartisan legislation passed the Senate to provide additional incentives for cadets to continue serving upon graduation while helping them receive a high-quality, affordable education. I’ll keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it signed into law.”

“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—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. 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).

In the U.S. Senate, Peters has been a strong advocate for the United States’ maritime military institutions as well as the maritime sector. Peters was recognized by the Navy Supply Corps Foundation Board of Directors as the 60th Navy Supply Corps Foundation Distinguished Alumnus. 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.