The Navy's annual call for Seaman to Admiral–21 (STA–21) program applications is now on the streets.
This year's board will meet in September, according to NAVADMIN 094/21 released on May 12. To be considered, initial applications must be postmarked on or before July 1.
Navy officials recommend not waiting until the July 1 deadline. Instead, early submission is encouraged as it allows time for feedback to the Sailor if their package is missing required documents or if anything is not readable, the message said.
Those needing additional documentation have until Aug. 1 to submit any additions to their applications.
The message announced temporary changes to policy this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, impacts to the availability of college aptitude and fitness testing have resulted in exceptions to policy and alternate ways to fulfill those requirements and documentation.
Because of COVID-19 and the cancellation of the last three Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) cycles, requirements for Cycle 1 2020, Cycle 2 2020 and Cycle 1 2021 have been waived. Instead, applicants who have not taken the PFA within the past year require their commanding officer's endorsement verifying the Sailor is currently within height and weight standards.
Qualifying Scholastic Aptitude or American College tests scores are still required. However, because COVID-19 has limited testing availability in many areas of the country, those unable to complete either exam can apply with a command letter indicating testing was not available to them. In those cases, to be eligible, Sailors must provide their high school cumulative grade point average. For Sailors who graduated more than five years ago, they must have a minimum of 12 college credits with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Competition for quotas is keen. Of the 339 applications received for the fiscal year 2021, 318 were board eligible and 55 Sailors were selected. This year's panel will offer roughly the same opportunity.
Those selected attend college full-time while collecting a paycheck at their current paygrade. The Navy covers tuition through an annual $10,000 stipend. The Sailor is responsible for any costs over that amount. Sailors can use the GI Bill to cover any difference.
Critical to an applicant's package is a written, personal statement.
"This is an opportunity for you to 'speak' in front of the selection board without physically being there," said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kenneweg, who handles commissioning programs on the staff of the Chief of Naval Personnel. "It's also an opportunity to address any sort of adverse info, such as a low high school GPA."
NAVADMIN 094/21 outlines specific items Sailors should address in the statement. For example, telling the board about sports or other high school activities helps paint a complete picture of the applicant. Discussing your motivation for becoming an officer and what you will bring to the wardroom as a prior-enlisted Sailor is also suggested.
Just as crucial to what Sailors choose to say in their statement is how they write it.
"The application is a reflection of the applicant," said Cathy Kempf, a retired Navy commander who heads selection and placement for STA-21 as well as Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). "Spelling and grammar count, so applicants should review their entire packages before submitting."
One final change mentioned in the message is where Sailors send their packages.
"Completed applications will no longer be sent to Pensacola, they’ll go to Naval Service Training Command in Great Lakes, IL," Kempf said.
Details on this year's board specifics are available in NAVADMIN 094/21. This includes where to send completed applications, Sailor application requirements and command responsibilities in the screening process.
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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