If you are a student currently in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) or are thinking about joining ROTC, you should be aware that the ROTC offers scholarships that can help offset the costs of your college education. By knowing how to get an ROTC scholarship, how to apply for an ROTC scholarship, and what to expect from the process, you'll be in a better position to help pay for your college tuition while enjoying other benefits the ROTC program has to offer.
What Is ROTC?
If you're not already part of the ROTC, you may be wondering what this program is and what it entails. While not every school offers this program, many do—so you'll need to check with your school directly to find out whether this is the case.
The ROTC is a training program for college students who have committed to serve in the United States military after finishing college. The concept of this program is designed to prepare young adults for future careers in the military. In return, the program helps to pay for tuition and other college expenses during a reserve officer's course of study.
Some high schools also offer a "junior" ROTC program, where students can learn more about military service while gaining valuable leadership and discipline skills. For students in high schools with a participating JROTC program, this can be a great way to determine whether joining ROTC in college is right for them.
Military Branches With ROTC
Across the U.S., there are more than 1,700 colleges and universities that offer ROTC programs—with most branches of the military (Army, Air Force, and Navy) being represented. It is worth noting that the Marine Corps does not have its own ROTC program, but Marines are eligible through the Navy's ROTC program.
The exact service commitment for ROTC members after completing college can also vary based on the military branch with which you are affiliated. The United States Army, for example, requires eight years of active service after graduation. The Navy, on the other hand, requires five years of service.
How Can ROTC Help Students?
The main advantage of an ROTC program for those already planning to serve in the military is that scholarships are available to help pay for school and other related expenses.
What is an ROTC scholarship, anyway? Specifically, ROTC program participants are eligible for scholarships that can cover the full cost of tuition and fees for up to four years. On top of that, recipients can receive a monthly stipend to help offset costs of living, room and board, and similar expenses.
Accepting an ROTC scholarship can be an ideal way to pay for most (if not all) of your college education before completing military service. The ROTC program and its scholarships are a viable option for those who see themselves in long-term military careers or who see themselves exploring other career options after completing their active-duty service commitments.
Qualifying for an ROTC Scholarship
The exact qualifications for an ROTC scholarship can vary slightly based on the specific branch of the military in which you are serving. In general, scholarship qualifications for the ROTC program require recipients to:
- Provide proof of United States citizenship
- Maintain a GPA of at least 2.5
- Meet ACT and/or SAT scoring requirements
- Be at least 17 years old
- Hold a high school diploma
- Meet basic physical fitness standards set forth by the military
Using ROTC to Help Pay for College
If you're interested in joining the ROTC as a means of receiving military training and helping pay for your college experience, there are some things to know about scholarship requirements, educational requirements, and other eligibility standards.
ROTC Scholarship Requirements
No matter which branch of the U.S. military you will be affiliated with, you need to meet a set of basic educational, training, and physical fitness requirements to be eligible for the program (and its available scholarships).
If you join the ROTC and accept an ROTC scholarship, you may also be required to take some ROTC courses as part of your program. This remains true even if your course of study has nothing to do with the military. The exact course requirements can vary based on the branch of the military in which you serve. In most cases, however, you will need to take classes about the structure and history of your respective branch. This will help prepare you for your future service while satisfying the requirements of your scholarship.
Training and Military Requirements
In addition to educational requirements, members of the ROTC are also required to complete military training. This may include training programs outside of the classroom that go into leadership, service, and other important components of serving in the military. In certain cases, students in ROTC may be required to attend basic military training programs during the summer, which can range from a couple of weeks to several weeks.
Physical and Fitness Qualifications
All ROTC members also need to meet basic physical fitness standards, though these are set forth by the individual military branches. You'll need to check with the branch in which you will serve to find out what the exact criteria for a physical fitness assessment entail. It is not uncommon, for example, for students to be required to run a mile or two and complete other physical exercises (like push-ups and sit-ups) in order to qualify.
ROTC Scholarship Application Process
If you're considering the option to join the ROTC while in college, you'll definitely want to take advantage of the college scholarships available to you. However, there is a particular process you will need to follow to apply for your ROTC scholarship, so it's better to get started earlier rather than later.
Working on Applications While in High School
Ideally, if you're going to join the ROTC in college, you'll get started during your junior or senior year of high school. During this time, you can visit different recruiting branches of the military to find out more about them and determine which branch you may wish to serve in after completing your college education.
During this time, you can also begin filling out your ROTC application while you're still in high school. If you've already completed high school and are enrolled in college, check with your school's Department of Military Science to find out how to apply through them. Someone should be able to guide you through the process.
Creating a Military Account
To formally apply for an ROTC scholarship, you'll also need to have a military account. You can create an account directly through the branch in which you will be serving. For example, the Army allows you to create an account directly on their website by entering some personal information, including your first and last name, date of birth, and email address. Once your account is created and verified, you can formally apply for an ROTC scholarship.
Reaching Out to Local Branches
Because each branch of the military handles its own ROTC scholarship requirements and similar details, it's a good idea to reach out to your branch directly for additional guidance and useful information about the process. This may include application deadlines, materials and documentation to include with your application, and more. If you have specific questions about an ROTC scholarship, you can visit your local military branch in person or give them a call to learn more.
Make sure to satisfy all requirements of your ROTC scholarship application before you submit it. If you need to show proof of citizenship, GPA, or standardized test scores, be sure to include these with your application. Likewise, make note of the official submission deadlines for your scholarship applications. In most schools, applications will open up at the start of the summer, so it's best to submit yours early to maximize your chances of getting approved.
Begin Your College Journey Today!
Interested in the ROTC? Remember to take advantage of the scholarships this program has to offer for those who are ready to serve in the military after completing school. Not only can these scholarships cover your costs of tuition and fees, but a monthly stipend can help offset living expenses while you're in school as well. All of this can make college more affordable and attainable. Plus, if your ROTC scholarship doesn't cover all your education and living costs for any reason, you can always explore additional scholarship and grant options available to college students and military members.
At Lindenwood University Online, we take great pride in welcoming both active military members and military veterans, providing various education benefits that include special tuition rates for military members and their dependents. We also offer a number of excellent resources to help military members and veterans receive the support they need to succeed while in school.
Learn more about our military resources and the programs we offer, or feel free to reach out and request more information about our military-friendly school.