Housing and Per Diem

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  1. #1
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    Housing and Per Diem

    So I'm going to be in the July 12th class and I have some questions. I live in NJ and I got hired by Phoenix. I figured I would just drive out there. I want to know how much the per diem with housing and all is daily? Also should I stay at isola Bella or find something else? I'm bring my 2 dogs because I don't want to worry about getting them out to AZ. And help would be great. thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    If you search back through the ATSS forum pages, all of your questions and then some are answered in great detail. Just go to the bottom of the page and hit the next page tab. So much information on here. Even reviews on Isola Bella. I pasted a good write up from SeatonBM. I couldn't figure out how to link you to his post.

  3. #3
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem


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    • 01-10-2016, 09:26 AM
      SeatonBM

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      Re: The New School Format at FAA Academy

      So here is the 411...

      First off a small introduction on who I am... I am a new hire CURRENTLY ATTENDING the Common Principles course at the FAA Academy here in Oklahoma City, OK. AS-OF-RIGHT-NOW (It is 1/10/2016 as I type this), the training is not job jeopardy... I have heard the term, but as of right this second if you fail (end with <70% total average score) you will be sent through remedial training at your duty station and eventually will take a secondary attempt at passing everything... I think if you fail then, you're done... I am not positive on that last part though... So far I have found the course material fairly simple, but I've only attended a weeks worth so far... Day 1 was a travel day for me, day 2 was orientation, day 3 and 4 is algebra, and day 5 was trig... I however have a background with math in college up to trig, and I have worked in the communications field for something like 8 years up to this point... I was hired as an ATSS for the communications specialty, but everyone in ATSS attends the common principles course and is expected to pass it (though I have heard of special cases where some have bypassed it on rare occasions). In my class though we have a few people who are weak with math, don't be intimidated... Just pay attention, ask questions, study, the course is made to make the material easy to learn and the instructors will bend over backwards to help you pass. The orientation and training is a very laid back environment. The instructors encourage all the students to help each other, I infact hosted a study session at my place of lodging today (today was my day off- weekend). This doesn't mean it won't be challenging, or that no one fails it... But it means if you take it seriously and have the aptitude, you should be good. Just ask questions and use all the tools given to you. Get familiarized with the provided calculator and formula sheet. You will also be given a tablet where all your notes and course material will be taken given. You can also take paper notes but come test time the only thing you will have is the test, a newly issued fresh formula sheet, your pen/ pencil, scrap paper given to you, and your calculator... You will not be allowed your notes or the initial formula sheet given to you during the test. The calculator is programmable, but they will clear its memory before the test.... In short, you will not be allowed anything to rely upon aside from your own brain, formula sheet, and a calculator for the test... There are multiple versions of each test too, so they do all they can to prevent cheating. I was told there are roughly 25 questions per test, you are given something like 2 hours to take it, and that it is multiple choice. Good luck! Keep in mind they invest a ton of money just to get you to the new hire course in travel, per diem, security clearance, etc... They WANT you to pass... And they almost NEED you to pass as most facilities are under staffed... That doesn't mean passing is automatic though by any means.

      AS-OF-RIGHT-NOW, if you are attending the academy for more than 16 consecutive class days (not including weekends and holidays) you are considered "long term" and receive a "long term per diem rate" which is for lodging cost and food... The total per diem you'll receive is $96.20/day (broken down it is $37.40 for food and $58.80 for lodging)... You keep whatever you do not spend... Since you have to eat whether you are here or not, I consider the meal portion automatic profit... The lodging portion is yours to keep too, minus your lodging expenses as long as you can produce a receipt that you paid for lodging and the lodging has to be somewhere that can be proved to be available to the public (IE not just a friends or family member's house- though loop hole supposedly is posting an ad for renting the residence on craigslist or something which makes it available to the public, but occupied by you)... While I am here currently, I am paying $42/night for lodging... So I am profiting $54.20/day (my course runs from January 5th, 2016 through March 11th, 2016). On your travel day here (you are authorized to travel the day prior to your training start date if you are coming from somewhere domestic to the USA, 2 days prior if you are coming from outside the USA... If you choose to come up earlier, your travel is paid for by the FAA, but lodging and expenses beyond that (food, rental car, etc.) are on you up until the day prior (2 days if coming from outside the USA)), you are only paid $37.40 in per diem for your travel day up.... The FAA pays for your travel to the academy. If you fly, you will book a 1 way ticket to Oklahoma City through a government contracted travel agency called SATO Travel and the bill will be paid directly by the FAA... If you drive up, you will be paid mileage which for this year I heard was only $0.54 per mile... But the FAA will only pay which ever is lesser, to fly you up, or your mileage up to that value. Some people are not authorized to fly if they live to close to the academy too and have no choice but to drive. When it is time to leave the academy, you will be authorized a 1 way ticket back to your home of record, or maybe your duty location... Or up to equal value in expense to the government...

      While you are here assuming you flew to Oklahoma City, you are authorized a rental car (if you don't fly to Oklahoma City you are not authorized a rental car- your authorization to fly to Oklahoma rests on how far your are coming from to the Academy, not sure on the threshold)... You will pay for it on your own up front and be reimbursed later up to $2,200... Anything over that is on you... And again, you will only be reimbursed for the rental car for the duration of your training and authorized travel days... Also the FAA will pay for your rental car's gas within reason, so keep your receipts (DO NOT submit rental car receipts for gas fill ups somewhere outside of Oklahoma City, or for fuel fill ups at higher than normal intervals- it is suppose to be used for official use only and recreation within reason... You are taking a huge risk driving the government paid for rental car any significant distance away from the academy location. It is recommended you take out a 2nd rental care if you want to leave town)... Note, you do not get to keep any of the $2,200 you don't spend... So do not feel compelled to shop for pricing thinking you'll pocket the rest... You won't. Also, do not take out any special insurance or extras when you rent the car. The car is covered by the government if you get in an accident- just ask for the typical FAA/ government coverage when you rent it.

      If you did not fly into Oklahoma City or were not authorized to fly to Oklahoma City you do not get a rental car, but are paid mileage up to a certain amount equal to how much it would have costed the FAA to pay for you to fly in, or something like that. I came from Melbourne, FL so I flew in. I do not believe those who drove are authorized reimbursement for their gas while at the academy, and the mileage they pay you for is to cover the cost of gas and wear and tear on your car to get here and back. I believe you will only get mileage (up to a certain amount) for your trip back and for, but not while at the academy.

      While you are considered here "long term", at least for the Common Principles course anyways, you will be authorized 1 round trip plane ride back to your home of record or equal value as what the FAA would pay through SATO Travels (government contracted travel agency). The FAA will not pay for any cancellation or itinerary modification fees, SATO offers you a cancelled/ refundable (to the FAA) ticket... So if you have to cancel or modify your travel itinerary, you can do so for free up to 30 minutes prior to your flight's scheduled departure time. These rules all also apply for the round trip booking to initially get to the academy for training, and leaving upon completion. Note... When you utilize your 1 free round trip flight home (or wherever), you will not be paid the $37.40 meal portion of your per diem... you will however continue to receive your lodging rate of $58.80 as long as you remain checked in at your lodging facility (IE don't check out). Also, do not return your rental car, the FAA will pay for it while you are gone. Just park it somewhere safe (at the airport, or your lodging facility). Also note, if you do not use the free round trip flight home (or wherever), you are not given anything for not using it. It is a "use it or lose it" kind of a thing.

      Your first day here for training is an orientation day. Everyone will meet at the academy for several briefings where they will go over travel expenses, per diem payment, benefits, and other things like work place rules and conduct, P.A.S.S. (union) stuff, etc. The briefing's begin at 7am, but you have to stop at the security office prior to gaining access to the academy to get a temporary badge and parking pass which you must carry on your person/ in your car while you are at the FAA instillation. You cannot gain access without it- and while you use the temporary badge and parking pass you must also possess a valid government issued photo ID with your temporary badge... When you get your temporary badge, you will fill out paperwork and take a photo for your permanent badge, and will receive such shortly while attending the training. I would show up at least 30 minutes early to get all this done, you will possibly have a difficult time figuring our where to go once you gain access to installation despite a poorly drawn and hard to read (microscopic font) map... allow yourself time to be on time to the orientation despite potential struggle to get there. The installation is right outside the Oklahoma City Airport, but personally I would scope it out the day before just so you know where to go. Day 2 and on is the training... They split the students into day classes or night classes. I am in night classes. Night classes is laid back, I like it because I am somewhat naturally nocturnal... The only issue with night classes is food during your "lunch" break is a complex issue unless you bring a lunch... You get a 30 minute lunch break. I can't tell you what day classes are like, but you will find it easier to get food during the day. Night classes run from 3:30pm to midnight. Day classes run from 7am to 3:30pm.

      You will be given an opportunity on the first day to elect a pay advancement for up to 100% of your per diem and up to another $2,200 for the rental car. The money will be direct deposited into your bank account you give them supposedly within 10 days or something like that (I haven't received mine yet). With that advancement you will pay for your lodging and rental car basically- and you can use it for food... I wouldn't go on a spending spree however... Again, whatever you do not use of the $2,200 for the car rental you will give back to the FAA (minus gas expenses). also if for some reason you leave the academy early you will have to pay back the per diem for the days you are not there... and again, if you elect to use your 1 free round trip flight, you will pay back $37.40/day you are gone. So you will likely end up owing the FAA back some of the money, no big deal as long as you didn't spend it all... So put it in an interest bearing account or something... I took 100% advancement offered... Be smart about it... If you are, there will be no issue with doing this.

      Some people have government credit cards (prior federal employees, etc.). I am unsure the rules for using that credit card.

      You are an official federal employee with the FAA the day you begin orientation/ training (not the travel day prior, etc.). You will begin being paid your agreed upon salary then, and earning leave, etc. You earn leave at the rate of 4 hours vacation/ 4 hours sick leave per pay period until you have 3 years in service. Prior service such as being a federal employee or time in the military counts, so if you spent 3 years or more as a federal employee or in the military, you will earn 6 hours vacation/ 4 hours sick leave per pay period... There is also a clinic, gym, food establishments, etc. on the installation you can use. The gym I think is something like $10/ week.

      While you are in training status, you are eligible to receive the Montgomery GI Bill if you are entitled to the benefit. I am unclear what rate you are paid... I have been told you receive either the vocational rate, or the full time student rate (with regards to the chapter 33 anyways)... A buddy of mine said he spoke directly to the VA MGIB hotline and they told him the full time student rate is what is paid, another buddy of mine said the vocational rate... If it is the full time student rate, it is rated at the Basic Housing Allowance rate (BAH) paid to E-5 military personnel with dependents as stationed at the zip code of your assigned duty location (not Oklahoma City, OK unless that is where you will be stationed... So for me, I will be stationed at the Miami, FL ARTCC, the zip code is 33166, the E-5 with dependents BAH rate is just under $2,400/ month). you are considered in "training status" until you certify unless you are terminated... I am not sure when you apply for use of the Montgomery GI Bill (when you reach your duty location?), but it is retro paid from your date you begin the orientation I believe.

      Last note, all of this only applies to ATSS. If you are ATC the above applies differently to you. I believe this causes confusion sometimes.

      I hope this helps.






  4. #4
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    Thank you I couldn't remember the title of this specific thread but I knew I was reading it before.

  5. #5
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    Also I wanted some input from people who relocated across the country.

  6. #6
    MAS
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    This is very good info. I'm also in the July 12th class but I haven't decided what lodging to get. The isola Bella seems like a really good place. I especially like that they provide breakfast and dinner every day, brunch on weekends. Good luck with your travel arrangements. Maybe/probably I'll see you there.


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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    Do some research first. I have not personally stayed there, but others in training with me have...I get the impression that it is a crap hole.

    Quote Originally Posted by MAS View Post
    This is very good info. I'm also in the July 12th class but I haven't decided what lodging to get. The isola Bella seems like a really good place. I especially like that they provide breakfast and dinner every day, brunch on weekends. Good luck with your travel arrangements. Maybe/probably I'll see you there.


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  8. #8
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    I'll see you there for sure. Someone told me about another place that takes dogs in Moore. I'm planning on contacting them tomorrow and I'll let you know how it goes and what they say.

  9. #9
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    I've heard it's crappy there but for me it's hard finding a place with 2 dogs.

  10. #10
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    Re: Housing and Per Diem

    Removed phone number

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