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If you think you've got what it takes to be an officer, the annual call for applications to the 2021 Seaman to Admiral program, known as STA-21, is on the streets.
This year's board will meet in mid-September. Applications must be postmarked on or before July 1 to be considered by the board. Some leeway is being granted for additional documents to be being added later, though the July 1 deadline for initial applications is hard and fast.
"The program's goal is to provide our highly-motivated, active-duty personnel an opportunity to obtain their undergraduate degree and earn a commission as a naval officer," said Cathy Kempf, a retired Navy commander who heads selection and placement for STA-21 as well as Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).
"The program is very competitive as the selection boards look for the top-notch Sailors who go above and beyond their normal duties while already having an academic background that positions them to complete their degree in 36 months or less."
This year's STA-21 details are in NAVADMIN 152/20, released on May 26.
STA-21 is one of several routes the Navy offers to go from the deckplates to the wardroom. Other options include the U.S. Naval Academy, NROTC, and Officer Candidate School. More senior Sailors can apply for direct commissions through the Limited Duty Officer and Chief Warrant Officer Programs. There are also routes to a commission in the medical community through in-service procurement programs.
For Sailors with significant college credits, STA-21 can be the fastest route to a commission, which is why competition for quotas is keen. Of 323 applications received for the fiscal-year 2020 board, only 305 were deemed eligible. Of those, just 55 were selected. This year's board is expected to offer the same opportunity.
Once selected, Sailors attend college full-time and collect their full paycheck for their current paygrade while in school. Tuition is paid for by the Navy through an annual $10,000 stipend. Any costs over that must be covered by the Sailor, though they can use their GI Bill to cover any difference.
Qualifying college entrance exams scores are required and cannot be waivered. Sailors can use either the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the American College Testing exams, provided they were taken within the last three years, specifically between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2020.
Because the recent COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of many scheduled exams, the Navy will allow applications to be accepted after the July 1 deadline as long as test scores are received before the board meets, currently slated for the second week in September.
Fitness counts, too, as applicants can't have below an overall "good" score on any Physical Fitness Assessment over their past three cycles. Here, also, there are COVID-19 considerations allowing Sailors to use scores from the latest full test taken within the past year because this spring’s tests were suspended.
The following community options are open for application this year -- Surface Warfare (SWO), Surface Warfare Engineering (SWO/ED), Nuclear (Surface/Sub), Special Warfare, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Naval Flight Officer, Pilot, Civil Engineering Corps, Nurse Corps and Information Professional.
No applications will be accepted this year for Human Resources, Intelligence, Information Warfare, Medical Corps, Supply Corps, Surface Warfare Officer Information Professional (SWO/IP), Oceanography (OCEANO) and SWO/OCEANO.
Sailors flexible on community preference can apply under the "core option." Here, Sailors are not assigned a community up front but compete for spots in the unrestricted line designators of pilot, naval flight officer, submarine or surface warfare, as well as EOD and SEAL.
More information on this year's board specifics are available in NAVADMIN 152/20. Overall program requirements and application details - as well as program contacts -- can be found at http://www.sta-21.navy.mil.
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