Student Incentive Payment FAQs

Question: Must I apply for U.S. Navy SSO Midshipman status in order to be selected to receive a Student Incentive Payments (SIP)?
Answer: Yes. Only those students who apply and are accepted into the Strategic Sealift Midshipman Program (SSMP)will be considered eligible for SIP.  The SIP Program is a Department of Transportation (DOT) Program that provides funding to SMA students.  The DOT Program is available to SMA students that want to be in the SIP Program and who pass the requirements, and accept the DOT MARAD service obligation. 

Question: How is SIP paid to participants?
Answer: The DOT MARAD SIP funding is currently provided at the beginning of each semester of the academic year to the account specified on the participants direct deposit form. The total annual funding is $8,000, which is $4,000 each semester. This is deposited directly into your bank account

Question: When does the enrollment period begin?
Answer: The SIP enrollment normally begins the Fall semester at each SMA, when you sign the Maritime Administration Service Obligation Contract and enrollment documents including the SSO/USNR Agreement and Navy documents and when it is approved by MARAD.  During the enrollment period you will also be required to accept U.S. Navy Enlisted Reserve status and pass USCG and DoDMERB physicals.

Question: What if I don't pass the physical examination given by the U.S. Navy  or USCG prior to the beginning of the academic school year?
Answer: Your SIP application will not be approved. Only those Midshipmen who are physically qualified to participate in the SSMP and are deemed commissionable to obtain a USCG Unlimited Merchant Mariner Credential will be eligible for SIP.

Question: What happens if I resign or disenroll from school during or after entering the third year?
Answer: The school will notify MARAD of your disenrollment/resignation. MARAD will then review your record and the circumstances of the disenrollment / resignation to determine if you have breached your service obligation.  Voluntary resignation from school constitutes a breach of the service obligation. 

Any midshipman/cadet who has attended an academy in the SIP program for more than two years and fails to complete the course of instruction at that academy, may be immediately ordered by the Secretary of the Navy to active duty in the U.S. Navy in an enlisted capacity or required to repay all SIP funds received.

Question: Once I disenroll or resign from school, may I reclaim my SIP upon subsequent re-enrollment?
Answer: No. Once you are disenrolled or resign from school, you may not reclaim your SIP upon subsequent reenrollment. However, you may be granted a leave of absence without pay from the SIP program for up to one academic year, approved by the academy Superintendent or President, if you continue to meet all requirements for graduation, including age.

Question: Once in the SIP Program at a SMA, may I transfer to another SMA and remain in the SIP Program.
Answer: Transfers will be reviewed by MARAD, after review and recommendations from the State maritime academies, on a case by case basis.  There is no guarantee of acceptance at another State maritime academy.

Question: What types of jobs will satisfy the employment obligation once I graduate?
Answer: Your first obligation is to seek employment as a merchant marine officer sailing on U.S. flag vessels. Any employment other than sailing on a U.S. flag vessel as an officer utilizing your Merchant  Marine Credential (MMC), or active duty as an officer in the U.S. armed forces, or as a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps or officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) will require an approved Employment Determination Request (EDR) from MARAD prior to starting that employment.  The EDR form is on the MARAD website at 

Serving, and successfully completing, the five year period following graduation as a commissioned officer on active duty in an armed force of the U.S., or as a commissioned officer of the NOAA Corp or as a commissioned officer in the USPHS will completely fulfill your MARAD service obligation.

Foreign Flag afloat employment and shoreside maritime-related employment will also require an EDR and must be approved by MARAD prior to accepting the position.  The EDR is only approved after you have provided documentation that you have actively sought afloat employment on U.S. flag vessels.  The EDR must be recommended for approval by the applicants SMA prior to MARAD receipt. 

A major objective of the SIP Program is to have available a cadre of well- educated and skilled merchant marine officers trained and knowledgeable of U.S. flag vessels in the event of a national emergency or a contingency. Also a component of the SIP graduate’s service obligation is to maintain a current MMC for a minimum of 6 years.  The original MMC is current for 5 years and to upgrade or renew it once, so that is valid for 6 years, the graduate must be utilizing it by sailing U.S. flag vessels.

Maritime ashore employment consists of operational, management and administrative responsibility in areas such as: Federal and State agencies in maritime related positions, steamship companies, stevedoring companies, vessel chartering and brokerage operations, cargo terminal operations, naval architecture, shipbuilding and repair, municipal and state port authorities, port development, marine engineering, tug and barge companies, and oil and mineral operations.

In addition, employment as an operating engineer in a shoreside stationary power plant such as industrial plants, paper mills, fossil fuel and nuclear utility companies, co-generation plants, hospital power plants, etc., are reviewed on a case by case basis for fulfilling the requirements of your service obligation.  The above employment opportunities do not set forth all types of positions, organizations, or fields that may be acceptable to satisfy the employment service obligation.

This is an official U.S. Navy web page.  Naval Service Training Command is the parent command for the Department of Naval Science, Massachusetts Maritime Academy. All information on this site is approved
by the DPTNAVSCI MAMARICAD Officer In Charge. For technical issues contact the DPTNAVSCI MAMARICAD Webmaster.