ROTC four-year scholarships are available to high school graduates (or equivalent) before starting college. The scholarships are based on merit, not need, and are very competitive. You must be a United States citizen, at least 17 years old, have at least a 2.5 grade point average, rank in the top 25% of your class, and score between 920-1600 on the SAT or 19-35 on the ACT. You also need three evaluations from school officials. Physically, you must meet the Army's current height and weight requirements. You may be required to attend an interview and if so, a medical examination as well. There is no fee for the application.
Let's talk cash. You can receive up to $17,000 a year to pay for tuition and mandatory fees (scholarship monies cannot be applied toward room and board). Recipients also receive a yearly allowance for books, as well as a monthly stipend of $250 for freshmen, $300 for sophomores, $350 for juniors and $400 for seniors. Does receiving an ROTC scholarship mean you have to major in any particular field? No. Although many schools with Army ROTC programs offer minors in Military Science, that's not required either. Generally, ROTC scholarship students can major in anything they like and participate in any activity that does not interfere with ROTC requirements. What are ROTC requirements? You have to take some Military Science courses and participate in drills. Between your junior and senior years, you also have to attend the ROTC National Advanced Leadership Camp.
Receiving an ROTC scholarship means spending time after graduation in the service of Uncle Sam. While most scholarships, like grants, are considered "free" money every graduate who receives an ROTC scholarship must pay back their scholarship with a service commitment in the active Army, Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, or a combination of active and Reserve service. It is important to note that scholarship winners have no obligation for the first year only. In other words, if you win an ROTC scholarship and decide that life as an Army officer is not for you after your first year, you can exit the program without any obligations to the Army.
Just because you didn't get an ROTC four-year scholarship, doesn't mean you are out of luck for the rest of your college career. Once you get to school, you can take ROTC courses (they count as electives), and reapply for a two- or three-year scholarship. The money is the same, and so is the post-graduation commitment.
Any College student can join ROTC as long as his or her 27th birthday* does not occur before graduation. High school students who apply during their senior year are notified of acceptance by mid-November or mid-March, depending on the date of their inquiry. Scholarship applications should be requested between March 1 and November 1.
*An extension of the age requirement is available for prior active duty service personnel.
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