Becoming a Police Officer: Scholarships, Grants, and Programs (page 3)
This money is awarded to students for a wide variety of reasons, including good grades, financial need, future career plans, ancestry, and even hobbies.
Money for scholarships and grants is available for just about every student. Anything from being in the top 10% of your high school graduating class to playing the piano could make you eligible. And while they probably won't be the sole means of financing your college education (most range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year), scholarships and grants should not be overlooked as a source of financing.
Just the Facts
The Pell Grant is designed to assist students with exceptional financial need. In the academic year 2008–2009, six million students received Pell Grants ranging from $431 to $4,731. To determine whether you might fall within the income limits for a Pell Grant, make sure to check online or to ask your campus financial advisor. There is no stigma attached to taking the money if you are eligible. The program exists specifically to help low-income students attend college.
One scholarship that considers ancestry is awarded by The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). A scholarship is given to a high school senior, male or female, who is African American, has a minimum GPA of 2.5 and is planning to study criminal justice, law, or a related field. Financial need is a consideration. NOBLE's various chapters throughout the country offer about 35 similar scholarships. For further information, write to:
- Noble National Office
- 4609 Pinecrest Office Park Drive, Suite F
- Alexandria, VA 22312-1442
Women going into a career in law enforcement might apply for a scholarship with the National Association of Law Enforcement Executives (www.nawlee.com), while those with a sports background could contact the NCAA at 913-339-1906 to find out about scholarships and other funding for athletes.
However, the best way to find scholarship and grant money is to use the Internet. You enter the appropriate information about yourself, and a search will take place which will give you a list of those awards for which you are eligible. If you want to expand your search, your high school guidance counselors or college financial aid officers also have plenty of information about available scholarship and grant money.
Just the Facts
Campus-based aid is administered through the school rather than directly by the government. Participating schools are free to set rules, restrictions, and regulations as long as they comply with federal guidelines. In the case of the Federal Work Study Program, the government makes funds available to schools and other organizations, which in turn provide jobs and tuition remission to qualifying students. Other campus-based aid programs include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) and the Federal Perkins Loan program. FSEOGS are given primarily to students who qualify for Pell Grants, while the Perkins loans are made in the $4,000 to $6,000 range at 5% interest. The basic requirements for these and most federal aid include being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a Social Security number. You must also have a high school diploma or a GED.
The Student Educational Employment Program, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, his been streamlined into two separate programs used by various federal agencies as disparate as the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Bureau of Land Management and frequently leads to entry-level jobs. The assistance is available to virtually all levels of students, from those in high school, vocational or technical schools, and students pursuing an associate, baccalaureate, graduate, or professional degree. There are two types of assistance. One is designed to provide temporary employment during the school year or during summer vacations as long as the student remains in school. The second type offers the opportunity to engage in work directly related to your major field of study.
The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) must be renewed annually and the work you do is not necessarily related to your academic work. The Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) is a partnership involving the student and the agency. Work duties are designed to relate to your studies, including formal periods of work and study while attending school. This allows you to stay in school, obtain related on-the-job experience, and be paid for the work. It may also lead to permanent employment after you graduate.
The STEP and SCEP programs have similar eligibility requirements. You must be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, as a degree-seeking student, whether for a diploma, certificate, or another completion document. You must be at least sixteen years old, and be at least a halftime student at an accredited educational institution. The institution can be a high school, a technical or vocational school, a community college, a four-year college or university, or a graduate or professional school. You must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and be a U.S. citizen. Non-citizens may be considered if they are eligible to work in this country under U.S. immigration laws and if no qualified U.S. citizens are available for the position.
The National Guard
Another approach to work-study programs involves serving with the National Guard. Specifics vary from state to state, but enlisting with the National Guard can bring an enlistment bonus that can be used toward tuition or paying off an existing student loan. Credits can be earned toward tuition at in-state colleges, career training that qualifies for college credit, and a monthly paycheck. Service with the National Guard is prized by many law enforcement agencies, which will be a plus when you apply for a job.
Be mindful, though, that National Guard units are mobilized for emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and blizzards. If that happens, your regular routine—including attending classes—may be disrupted. National Guard units have also been deployed overseas, including to Afghanistan and Iraq; some personnel serve as long as a year or 18 months. While this can be a financially and emotionally enriching endeavor, it is not without risks.
Cadet programs range from one with the largest police force in the country to smaller programs in towns, cities, and counties all around the country. For example, the City University of New York (CUNY) and some New York area private colleges participate with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in a program called the NYPD Cadet Corp. Students enrolled at a participating college work part-time for the NYPD, get tuition reimbursement, and, depending on whether they take and pass the entry exam for police officer, may receive some benefits according to when they are called from the civil service list. Similar programs elsewhere offer on the-job training in non-enforcement areas at police departments and in sheriffs' offices. Some accept applicants who are no longer in school, but are recent graduates
Still in High School?
There are also high school programs that provide an early start on the path toward a career in the field. There are many variations to these programs. One example is a shared time program at the Monmouth County Vocational School Law Enforcement Program in New Jersey. This is a two-year program that permits juniors and seniors in high school to earn credits transferable to two local community colleges. The High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice in Houston, TX, which opened in 1981, offered one of the earliest secondary school curricula devoted to law enforcement. Currently, there are a number of public high schools offering specialized courses of studies in law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. These include, but are not limited to, the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet Schools, the Law Enforcement Career Academy at Wheeler High School in Valparaiso, IN; the Sandra Day O'Connor Criminal Justice/ Public Service Academy in El Paso, TX; the High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Jamaica, Queens, NY; the Law and Justice Program at Centennial High School in Roswell, GA; Southeast Academy Military and Law Enforcement High School in Cerritos, CA, and the Criminal Justice and Public and Private Security Program operated by the Chautauqua-Cattaraugas Board of Cooperative Education services in upstate New York near Buffalo.
An alternative to magnet or special curriculum high schools are Explorer Posts specializing in law enforcement. The Explorers are open to 14-yearolds who have completed eighth grade or those who are between 15 years old and 21 years old. Explorer programs include areas of emphasis that include career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education, and leadership experience. The Explorers' law enforcement specialty program has been endorsed by both the International Association of the Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriff's Association. With a post that is chartered by a local law enforcement agency, Explorers obtain first-hand knowledge of the work these agencies do while providing support for some of the agencies' community outreach programs. A member of the sponsoring police agency serves as Post advisor and the paramilitary structure of the post generally reflects that of the advisor's organization. As part of their community service orientation, Law Enforcement Explorers are permitted to go on patrol (ride-alongs) with officers. Explorers may also engage in search and rescue efforts for lost children and missing persons as well as receive training in such police functions as report writing, domestic dispute resolution, crowd control, hostage negotiations, and weapons training.