ROTC (The Reserve Officer Training Core) is one of the largest sources of full tuition scholarships for college. Homeschoolers are eligible to compete for ROTC scholarships. Students who are successful in securing ROTC scholarships meet a set of requirements including SAT or ACT standards, grade point average requirements, clean criminal history and drug background, and physical fitness standards. Above all these students have a desire to serve their country and have a willingness to commit to military service in exchange for some of their college costs. During this recession many students are also drawn to ROTC for the guarantee of a good paying job after college graduation. If your student is interested in ROTC start your research as early in high school as possible.
Three ROTC Options
There are options for students considering ROTC: Army, Air Force, and Navy. Students interested in Marine service can participate in Naval ROTC. The Coast Guard does not offer ROTC. Students may choose different programs for a variety of reasons. Some students come from a family with a tradition of service to particular branch of the military. Other students may choose based on an interest in a specific vocation such as aviation. Others are drawn generally to ROTC scholarships and service and their selection may be based more on the offerings at their first choice college.
Many students who receive ROTC scholarships can graduate on time, debt free. An ROTC scholarship could be worth up to $180,000 over a four year period, but costs will vary depending on the years of your scholarship and the cost of your college. Options include two, three, and four year scholarships. Many scholarships pay the full cost of tuition and fees as well as providing money for books and a monthly stipend. Stipends vary from program to program and year to year but may range up to $500 a month. This stipend may allow students to not be burdened by having a part time job.
Most ROTC scholarships do not pay for room and board and it is important for students to look carefully at these costs as these costs can be nearly as large as the cost of tuition, particularly at some state schools.
ROTC Scholarship Commitment
While in college students will take required military science courses and during summers will receive some military training opportunities. Many ROTC students appreciate the sense of community and comradery they find in ROTC. Having community can help a big campus feel more like home. After graduation students typically commit to serve a year to eighteen months for every year of scholarship they received, so this typically ranges between four and eight years commitment to the military. ROTC graduates enter the military as officers.
Most ROTC scholarships require four years of full time military service, followed up by four years of participation in the Reserve services. It is crucial that students really evaluate this obligation seriously and understand what they are committing to. Many ROTC scholarships require students to commit to a specific field of study. While some students may be granted permissions to change their field of study or go to graduate school before service, these options are not always available. Students are also required to continue to meet the physical exam qualifications and required behavior standards on and off campus. If you do not complete your commitment you are required to pay the government back for the full cost of your scholarship.
ROTC is competitive and not all students who are interested in ROTC scholarships will receive them. Homeschoolers are advised to take their studies, physical conditioning, and standardized testing seriously while in high school. Realize accepting a ROTC scholarship is making a serious commitment for military service. Take time to research the various ROTC options and look to the long term and think about how you’d like to begin your career. If you have a desire to serve your country and feel drawn to the guarantee of employment after college graduation, ROTC scholarships may be a great option for you.