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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors wanting to learn civilian job skills can now get financial help from the U.S. Navy.

The Navy announced this fall it will pay exam fees for online occupational certifications in about 1,500 areas.

Meanwhile, Sasebo Naval Base plans to open a new Navy College computer system this month that will give sailors access to credentials in most of those occupational fields. Officials at Yokosuka Naval Base said a similar system could be available there by early next year.

To get the funding, sailors must choose an occupational area that matches their rating and sign up for the Credentialing Opportunities Online program while money lasts, according to a Navy advisory last month. Interested sailors should visit the COOL Web site at https://www.cool.navy.mil.

Sailors also should check into credential exam funding “as soon as practicable as the program is subject to funding constraints as the year progresses,” according to the memorandum released by Vice Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., chief of naval personnel.

Sailors must have a minimum of one year remaining on their enlistment prior to receiving prepaid vouchers or reimbursements for credential exams. The Navy will not reimburse for registration fees, study guides or processing fees.

Once a credential area is chosen, sailors should work with base officials to see what credential programs are available.

In Sasebo, a new credentialing exam system was being tested this week and could be up and running later this month, said David Freeman, director of the base Navy College.

The Sasebo system will give sailors access to most of the 1,500 occupational credentialing areas in the Navy COOL program’s portfolio, Freeman said. To see what credential exams are available, sailors should check with the Navy College in Building 155, the community education center on main base.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chris Fowler contributed to this report.

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