If you are nearing the end of your service in the Army, you may be wondering what’s next. The transition from military to civilian life can be challenging, but the Army offers resources to help soldiers prepare for their next chapter. One such resource is the Career Skills Support Program (CSSP), which provides financial assistance to soldiers who have been approved for a SkillBridge or Career Skills Program (CSP). In this article, we will discuss the details of the CSSP, including eligibility requirements, application procedures, and the types of assistance available.
Overview of the Career Skills Support Program
The Career Skills Support Program (CSSP) is designed to help soldiers transition from military service to civilian careers by providing financial assistance for expenses associated with participating in a SkillBridge or CSP. The program was officially named the LTG (R) Nathaniel R. Thompson Jr. Career Skills Support Program in honor of the former Army general who dedicated his career to the welfare of soldiers and their families.
As of December 1, 2021, the Army Emergency Relief (AER) approved assistance for the U.S. Army’s Career Skills Program at all installations worldwide, allocating $3 million for program assistance. Additionally, as of September 1, 2022, Army Emergency Relief increased assistance from $1,500 to $2,000 for soldiers traveling from outside the continental United States to participate in a CONUS CSP.
Eligibility for the CSSP Grant
To be eligible for the CSSP Grant, soldiers must be approved by their Chain of Command to participate in a CSP during their last six months of service before transitioning out of the Army, be currently in the CSP, or have completed the CSP and accepted an employment offer. Eligible soldiers include:
- Active-Duty Soldiers
- Army National Guard/US Army Reserve Soldiers on Title 10 Orders (must be on Title 10 Orders throughout the CSP)
However, some individuals are not eligible for the CSSP Grant, including:
- Army National Guard/US Army Reserve Soldiers on Title 32 Orders
- Service Members from other branches of service (Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
- Soldiers transitioning out of the Army and not participating in a CSP
- Soldiers who have already separated from the Army
- Family Members
Submitting a Request for CSSP Grant
Soldiers can apply for the CSSP grant up to two weeks before the CSP start date through the date of separation from the Army. Requests will not be considered after separation. Depending on the soldier’s situation, there are five scenarios for submitting a request for the CSSP Grant. Soldiers should submit their request through the appropriate AER office or contact the American Red Cross if no AER office is available.
CSSP Grant Category Caps
The CSSP Grant offers different levels of financial assistance based on the location of the CSP training:
- Local CSP (within 50 miles of the installation) – $500
- Non-Local CSP (outside 50 miles from the installation) – $1,000
- OCONUS CSP (traveling OCONUS to CONUS/OCONUS or CONUS to OCONUS) – $2,000
These category caps are based on the location of the CSP training, not the location of the follow-on job. Soldiers participating in a virtual CSP with no travel required have a category cap of $500.
Expenses Covered by the CSSP Grant
The CSSP Grant covers a variety of expenses related to the CSP, including:
- Travel costs to the training location(airfare, rental car, train, taxi, fuel, etc.)
- 2. Uniforms and business attire
- Tools and supplies (including laptops/computers)
- Temporary lodging when barracks space is unavailable
- Initial rent and deposit at the new job location
- Utility deposits (electricity, gas, internet, water, trash, and sewer)
AER Officers should always enter CSSP requests under “Direct Access” as the Application Type in ARMS. If the Soldier is not eligible for “Direct Access”, the request should be entered under “Routine” as the Application Type.