The Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program at The Citadel
Welcome to The Citadel MECEP homepage. The MECEP Program originated at The Citadel in 1973. The NROTC Unit at The Citadel is an excellent choice for your college degree, continued professional development and place of commissioning. The Citadel is a superb academic institution offering both technical and non-technical degrees. MECEPs are completely separate from Cadets (Midshipmen), and are not required to participate in South Carolina Corps of Cadet functions, such as parade and drill. Our unit training is second to none as we are able to take advantage of the many military facilities in our area.
THE MECEP PLATOON
First and foremost, MECEP Marines ARE NOT members of the Corps of Cadets. Nor does a MECEP have to be single to attend the school. MECEPs are students that take classes on the campus based on their self-determined schedule. They are not involved with the South Carolina Corps of Cadets (SCCC) program in any way.
Members of the SCCC that wish to pursue a commission in the United States Marine Corps upon graduation are members of the Marine Contingent. To them, it somewhat resembles an after school, extra-curricular activity like a sports team. These cadets, also known as "Marine options" or "contracts," proudly wear a red badge on their SCCC uniform, receive an NROTC scholarship, and earn a commission as a Marine Second Lieutenant upon graduation.
The 20+ Marines who are MECEPs here at the Citadel form as the MECEP Platoon, and are members of the Marine Contingent in the NROTC Battalion. The MECEP platoon has a heavy leadership role in the functions of the Marine Contingent, due to the leadership experience that they possess. MECEPs handle the majority of the planning (with a Cadet staff assigned), teaches and mentors the cadets, and oversees the training intended to prepare the Cadets for the rigors of OCS, TBS and the Marine Corps. The entire Marine Contingent meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for PT; and once on Thursday for a lab period. Twice per semester, the Marine Contingent conducts a Field Training Exercise (FTX), which provides the unit the unique opportunity to conduct a wide variety of field training that would be otherwise difficult aboard campus, i.e. land navigation, patrolling, offensive operations, etc. As active-duty Marines with countless years of invaluable experience in various operational fields, the MECEP Platoon is responsible for much of the success that the Citadel enjoys.
Because all of the members of the SCCC wear a uniform every day to class, the Marines in the MECEP program wear a uniform as well, according to the prescribed uniform of the day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, MECEPs wear wear the Service C uniform to classes. Thursday, MECEPs wear the MCCUU (cammies) to classes, and on Friday, MECEPs wear the Dress Blue D uniform to classes. At first this might seem like an undesirable characteristic of the unit to some, however, among all of the other branches of service present at the school, the MECEPs wear it proudly. One would also be surprised how quickly they get used to wearing the uniform.
PT is conducted Monday at 1600, and Wednesday and Friday from 0545 to 0645. Thursday labs are conducted at 1600 and consist of various classes such as land navigation, patrolling, weapons handling, five paragraph order, etc. MECEPs teach these classes to the Cadets; however, with the large amount of Marines in the MECEP Platoon, this instructor work load is evenly spread with minimal impact to the free time of a MECEP. Generally these classes are taught completely voluntarily by Marines who are subject matter experts.
Academics will always be a MECEP's main priority here at the Citadel. Marines must take a minimum of 12 credit hours to maintain full time status, as per Marine Corps regulations. There are some Marines here who take 12 credit hours and some who take 22, the decision belongs to the MECEP. MECEPs build their own schedule, and attend class accordingly. There are never any physical accountability musters, except for the PT and lab periods. Some of the MECEPs set up their schedule in a way that they don't even have class every day, which is perfectly acceptable, and therefore have some days off, never stepping foot on campus. The MECEP Marines at the Citadel, carrying a prestigious reputation, are well known on the campus among the Cadets, staff and faculty. The professors especially like the MECEPs because they generally have the highest GPA as a group in the entire school and are always actively engaged in the classroom. One thing that sets the Citadel apart from other NROTC colleges or universities a MECEP can choose is the fact that all of the professors have the highest degree attainable in their field of study, and classroom size is much smaller than a public university.
WHERE TO LIVE
The Citadel is located on the peninsula in the heart of historic downtown Charleston. To the East is Mount Pleasant, and to the West is West Ashley. To the North is North Charleston, Goose Creek, Hanahan, and Summerville. Most of the MECEPs live in these areas. The average commute time from these areas is around 20-30 minutes; less for those closer to the peninsula and a little more for those further out and depending on the flow of traffic in the morning and evenings (the I-26 and I-526 can get rather congested during rush hour traffic).
Marines receive full pay and allowances for their enlisted pay grades just like they would in the fleet, and BAH is reasonable enough, having many locations to choose from in regards to selecting the perfect home. In addition to this, some MECEPs live with their families in the base housing that is available aboard Naval Weapons Station Charleston. The housing at Charleston Air Force Base has also become available to Marines.
PAYING FOR COLLEGE
One of the greatest advantages of being a MECEP at The Citadel is the fact that Marines are guaranteed a 50% off tuition discount for their entire time at the school (including summer semesters). This is guaranteed to all the current MECEPs and future MECEPs that enroll in classes up to the upcoming semester.
The Citadel is a state funded institution, and has extremely low rates compared to other colleges and universities. This year with the new discount, most MECEPs are choosing not to use the V.A Benefits (Montgomery G.I. Bill). Tuition will run you around $2,500 per semester (varying slightly year to year), regardless of the amount of credits taken. Every credit hour after 12 is free, so someone taking 17 credit hours pay the same as someone taking 12. During the summer semesters, however, classes are paid by the credit hour, so most MECEPs elect to have an easygoing 12 credit hour summer (3 in Maymester, Summer 1, and Summer 2). MECEPs typically pay for this low amount with scholarships, grants, or student loans, saving the loaded G.I. Bill to give to their spouse or children. The decision about paying for college is entirely up to the individual Marine.
Tuition Assistance may not be used as stated in the MECEP MarAdmin, although the Montgomery G.I. Bill – ACTIVE DUTY can be. The MGIB AD differs from the normal MGIB in the fact that Marines only receive compensation commensurate with what they owe in tuition. Therefore, instead of getting a set amount (the max) every month, for 36 months (normal MGIB), at the Citadel, MECEPS normally get about $415 per month (sent to them via direct deposit) for six months. This is evenly split up to pay the $5000 tuition for the entire regular school year.
All types of student loans are available, although before you can apply for any loan labeled “student” (regardless of whether it is through a bank, CU or private company), you must fill out a FAFSA for the current year. The FAFSA school year starts in September, so if you are checking in to the unit during the summer, and want student loans to cover your tuition, you’ll need to fill out a FAFSA for the current year, and another FAFSA for the upcoming year. The amount you can borrow also depends on your academic classification. For example, Seniors can borrow more than Freshmen.
After filing a FAFSA, many of the MECEPs found that they were eligible for grants like the Pell Grant. This is free money from the government to go to school that never has to be paid back. In order to see if one qualifies, a FAFSA must be filled out.
Among the plethora of scholarships available all over the Internet, the Admiral Mike Boorda College Loan is most widely used by MECEPs at The Citadel. This is a $3000/year interest-free loan designed specifically for MECEP students.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS