Navy Assistance Programs for College Study

Male navy officers in meeting room, smiling
Rob Melnychuk / Getty Images

The U.S. Navy offers financial assistance programs to help you pay for college. Some require officer training as a midshipman or cadet, while others do not. Keep in mind: Any scholarship or other assistance offered by the Navy requires service time to “pay it back.”

Pre-Service Programs

The following educational assistance programs are available before you join the Navy.

Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps: The NROTC is an undergraduate college scholarship program that leads to an appointment as an officer of the Navy or Marine Corps (with the NROTC Marine Option). The NROTC program is maintained to educate and train well-qualified men and women for careers as commissioned officers, and graduates will receive the rank of ensign or second lieutenant.

Civil Engineer Collegiate Program: If you are interested in working on civil engineering projects around the world, consider the CECP. It provides up to $139,000 while finishing your degree, a regular monthly income ranging from $2,900 to $5,800, and food and housing allowances. After graduation, you will become a Naval Civil Engineering Officer.

Nurse Candidate Program: The Navy needs nurses, and they're considered to be commissioned officers. The NCP offers up to $34,000 to help pay your way through nursing school, including an initial grant of $10,000, plus a monthly stipend of $1,000 for up to 24 months while earning your degree.

Medical Corps: The Navy will pay for medical school at certain accredited medical schools as well as the government's own medical school: Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. Medical students are commissioned as junior officers in their chosen service: Navy, Army, Air Force, or U.S. Public Health Service. They are on active duty throughout their education and are compensated as such. Tuition is paid for by the government.

Upon completion of their education, graduates must serve in their branch of the military for seven years. More than 60 percent of USU graduates serve 20 years or longer and retire with a government pension and benefits.

Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program: The Navy also needs smart STEM-oriented professionals, especially in its Nuclear Power program. If you are interested in being part of one of the top nuclear programs in the world, look into NUPOC. Nuclear power salaries are among the highest in the Navy. You can earn up to $168,300 while finishing your degree as well as a regular monthly income beginning up to 30 months prior to graduation. You can also get a food and housing allowance.

There are no service obligations until after you graduate and begin the process of being commissioned as a Navy Nuclear Officer. Once commissioned, you will be able to serve as a Submarine Officer, Surface Warfare Officer on a nuclear-powered ship, Naval Reactors Engineer, Naval Nuclear Power School Instructor, Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit Instructor, or even a professor at the Naval Academy and other Navy ROTC programs.

Post-Enlistment Programs

You can also earn a college degree while in the Navy. There are two options for doing so:

Navy College Program: The NCP enables you to receive academic credit for training you receive and work you perform while serving on active duty. While serving, you can also do online coursework that will count as college credits. You can transfer those credits to colleges and universities when you decide to leave or retire from the Navy.

Tuition Assistance: When on shore duty, many sailors attend college at night. The TA program will pay for any coursework you are doing on your own time. Typically, the program is for enlisted sailors who don't yet have a college degree, but some officers use it to get a master’s degree as well.

The Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program (BDCP) has been phased out and replaced by the above programs.

Loan Assistance Program

If you incurred significant college debt before you decided to join the Navy, you can apply through your recruiter for the Navy's Loan Repayment Program. The LRP is one of several Navy enlistment education incentive programs designed to pay federally guaranteed student loans (up to $65,000) through three annual payments during a sailor's first three years of service.