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    How ROTC Can Help Pay For College

    If you're interested in entering a branch of the military and going to college, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) may be a good option for you to achieve both.
    By Ashley Norwood - Updated: January 20, 2016

    What You'll Learn

    • What ROTC is.
    • Military branches that offer ROTC programs.
    • Other options to serve in the military and get a college degree.
    A military uniform

    As of 2014, only 7% of enlisted military members held a Bachelor's degree or higher. However, high school students don't have to choose between serving in the military and going to college. In fact, the military offers many programs to help students obtain a college degree—including the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

    What Is ROTC?

    Recent high school graduates or current college students may apply to ROTC programs with different branches of the military (Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Navy). Under these programs, students earn their degree with help from a military scholarship that pays part of or their entire bill.

    Students in ROTC programs declare a major like any other college student. They also take coursework related to the military branch they enroll with. Not all colleges offer ROTC curriculums, but students may be able to take the required courses at a different college. A military recruitment office should be able to offer more information on this option.

    ROTC is a commitment to that coursework, as well as to serve in the military upon graduation. After they complete their degrees, ROTC students serve in their selected branch for 4 to 12 years. Students can leave ROTC while still in college; however, they may have to return any money received from the program.

    Military Branch ROTC Specifics

    Different military branches have different requirements for their programs, as well as different benefits. All ROTC scholarships are only available to U.S. citizens, and all awards are based on merit, not finances. Here's a quick look at each program:

    Army ROTC

    Army ROTC scholarships are for up to 4 years of school or the amount of time remaining for a current college student to complete a 4-year degree.

    The scholarships may be up to full tuition plus books and fees or room and board instead of tuition at eligible schools. They also provide a monthly living allowance, ranging from $300 (for first-year students) to $500 (for fourth-year students).

    Entering an Army ROTC program commits the student to 8 years of service with the Army (4 years full-time service and 4 years with the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)). Some cadets may opt for part-time service in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard while pursuing a civilian career after graduation.

    Army ROTC Details

    Air Force ROTC

    Air Force ROTC scholarships are available at eligible schools in eligible majors. They come in three different types. The first two are for all 4 years of school:

    • Full tuition, most fees, and a book allowance.
    • College tuition up to an in-state public school's rate and a book allowance at qualifying schools.

    The last one is a 3-year scholarship that begins in the sophomore year of college:

    • Full tuition and most fees up to $18,000, and a book allowance. If tuition and fees exceed $18,000, the student can pay the difference.

    All Air Force ROTC students also receive a monthly living allowance, ranging from $300 (for first-year students) to $500 (for fourth-year students). High school students will have their travel expenses from home to the Air Force ROTC detachment reimbursed. Three-year scholarship recipients may receive a travel reimbursement at the beginning of sophomore year.

    Accepting an Air Force ROTC scholarship requires at least a 4-year commitment to serve on active duty in the Air Force upon graduation.

    Air Force ROTC Details

    Marine Corps ROTC

    Marine Corps ROTC provides students with financial assistance for college expenses at approximately 160 schools. Their scholarships may cover tuition, books, fees, and other educational costs.

    All students who receive a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship also receive a monthly allowance during the academic year. These amounts range from $250 per month (for first-year students) to $400 per month (for fourth-year students).

    Marine Corps ROTC scholarship recipients agree to serve at least 4 years on active duty upon graduation. After completion of the ROTC program, students are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

    If a student leaves school after entering the ROTC program, he or she must perform a minimum 2 years of enlisted service or return all ROTC scholarship money received.

    Marine Corps ROTC Details

    Naval ROTC

    Naval ROTC provides up to $180,000 for students for up to 5 years in college. Approximately 160 schools in the United States participate in this program.

    Navy ROTC scholarships covers tuition, lab fees, and books ($750 per academic year). They also include a monthly spending allowance, ranging from $250 per month (for first-year students) to $400 per month (for fourth-year students).

    After completion of the ROTC program, students are commissioned as officers in the Navy. ROTC recipients agree to serve at least 5 years in full-time active duty service in the Navy upon graduation. ROTC recipients in medical or dental school agree to serve on active duty for 9 to 12 years, depending on the school attended.

    If a student leaves school after entering the ROTC program, he or she must perform a minimum 2 years of enlisted service or return all ROTC scholarship money received.

    Navy ROTC Details

    Other Options

    An ROTC program may be a great option for future students or current college students. If you don't meet the criteria for these programs or you're already in the military, you have other options to fund your education. Check out Salt's Military Smartbook For Defeating Student Debt to learn more.

    Por Ashley Norwood - Actualizado: 20 enero 2016
    A military uniform
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