ROTC Scholarships

Updated: March 29, 2021

Table of Contents

    If you are torn between joining the military and going to college—you really need to read this article! An ROTC scholarship is a great way to have almost all of your college expenses paid for in exchange for your participation in an ROTC program and military service after you graduate.

    ROTC Scholarships Here’s what you need to know to apply for an ROTC scholarship.

    What Is ROTC?

    Today’s ROTC programs date back to 1916, when the National Defense Act created the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs. You can find ROTC programs on over 1,700 college and university campuses nationwide. ROTC lets you “train as you learn” by taking military science classes alongside your regular college courses. While ROTC programs are very similar, each one prepares you for a career in their military branch. You must meet minimum age and academic requirements and pass medical and physical fitness standards to be commissioned in the armed forces. You may also qualify for ROTC scholarships based on your academic performance. Once you commit to and complete an ROTC program, you’ll earn a commission as an active duty or reserve officer in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps (an option under Navy ROTC), or Air Force upon graduation.

    How Can ROTC Help Pay For College?

    If you are a high school student interested in being a commissioned officer in the U.S. military, applying for an ROTC scholarship is a great way to serve your country and have your education paid for. ROTC scholarships cover the up to the full cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks for four years. You’ll also get a monthly stipend (income) to help pay for personal expenses. If you need help beyond what the scholarship pays, you are still eligible for additional aid from other sources like the federal government. You can also compete for a scholarship if you are currently in college.

    Just remember that if you accept an ROTC scholarship, you are officially bound to serve in the military after graduation. Also, if you don’t keep up the minimum standards (academic or military), you could lose your scholarship and may be required to serve on active duty or repay some of the scholarship funds.

    What Military Training Do I Need To Take If I Get An ROTC Scholarship?

    Once you accept an ROTC scholarship, you will be a member of the detachment’s cadet corps and will have to attend military classes and training.

    ROTC Courses: You’ll take ROTC classes along with your college classes. The military-related course will teach you the history, organization, and function of your ROTC program’s military branch. These courses will also give you the essential leadership skills you’ll need to be an effective commissioned officer in the U.S. military. You’ll attend these classes once a week.

    ROTC Training: Military training is an essential part of any ROTC program. This training includes leadership theory, military operations and tactics, drill and ceremony (marching), and physical fitness. This “leadership laboratory” is usually held for two hours once a week.

    ROTC Summer Programs: As part of your professional and leadership development training, you must participate in summer “field training.” at various locations each year. This usually happens once you have signed a contract with the military and takes place between your sophomore and junior years or junior and senior years (depending on the military branch). Once you complete summer training, you will be expected to take a leadership role in the cadet corps. This will prepare you for life as a military officer.

    What Is My Service Obligation If I Graduate From An ROTC Program?

    Once you get your degree, your military service begins. You’ll begin military life as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marines, or an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Most ROTC graduates have a service commitment of four years. If you are accepted into special programs like as a pilot or a nurse, your commitment will be longer. Depending on the branch, you may be required to serve in the military reserves in addition to serving on active duty. After you complete your service obligation, you can leave the military or continue your military career. Many officers stay on for 20 years and retire from the military.

    What Are The Qualifications To Get An ROTC Scholarship?

    ROTC scholarship requirements vary between the different branches that offer scholarships, but here are the basic guidelines:

    • Be a U.S. citizen who is a least 17 years of age
    • Have a 2.5 GPA (3.0 for Air Force ROTC) or greater
    • Be a high school graduate
    • Meet minimum physical fitness standards

    How Do I Apply For An ROTC Scholarship?

    You can find out information on ROTC scholarships either through your local military recruiter or the ROTC webpage of the branch of service that interests you. Your best chance of getting a “full-ride” is to apply early. You can start the process as early as your junior year in high school. It also helps to know that most of the three and four-year scholarships go to students who major in “high-demand” majors that are sought after by the military. These majors include engineering, computer science, some foreign languages, or nursing. If you are in college and want to find out about ROTC scholarships you may qualify for, check out the ROTC detachment website at your school.

    What Military Branches Offer ROTC Scholarships?

    ROTC programs for the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force are available at more than 1,700 colleges across the country. If you are interested in a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship, you must apply through the Navy ROTC program.

    Where Can I Find An Army, Navy, or Air Force ROTC Unit?

    You can find ROTC detachments on most major colleges and universities. If you attend a school that does not have an ROTC unit on-campus, your school may have an agreement with a nearby school that does, allowing you to join their ROTC program.


    ROTC Scholarships

    In the following sections, we’ll provide you with more detailed information about ROTC scholarships for each military branch. We hope that this information will help you decide which ROTC program is right for you

    Army ROTC Scholarship Options

    High School Students

    Four-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, book allowance, and a monthly stipend
    • Deadline: October, January, and March each year
    • Service Commitment: Eight years split between the active duty and the Individual Ready Reserve

    College Students

    Three-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, book allowance, and a monthly stipend
    • Deadline: Check with your recruiter for current deadlines.
    • Service Commitment: Four years of service

    Two-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, book allowance, and a monthly stipend
    • Deadline: Check with your recruiter for current deadlines
    • Service Commitment: Four years of service

    Enlisted Soldiers

    The Army Green to Gold Program provides you with several options if you want to get your degree and earn a commission as an Army officer.

    • Green to Gold Scholarship Option: If you are a qualified enlisted soldier, you may leave active duty to get your degree. The scholarship includes full tuition or room and board, book fees and a monthly stipend.
    • Green to Gold Active Duty Option: If you want to stay on active duty and attend college.
    • Green to Gold Non-Scholarship: If you want to leave active duty to attend college. You’ll get a monthly stipend.

    Note: If you don’t have any college credits, you can apply for a four-year scholarship. If you have two years or three of college left, you can apply for a two-year or three-year scholarship.

    Navy / Marine Corps ROTC Scholarships

    Navy ROTC National Scholarship

    Four-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, partial fee coverage, $750 book stipend, uniforms, and subsistence allowances
    • Deadline: The end of January for the school year you are applying for. Navy recruiters have more information on timeframes.

    Navy and Nurse Application Requirements: Select a Tier 1-3 college major.

    Marine Corps Application Requirements: Pass the Marine Corps physical fitness test and get a minimum of 74 on the Armed Forces Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT).

    Service Commitment:

    • Minimum of five years for most candidates
    • 12 years for medical/dental school students
    • Four years for Marine Corps or Navy Nurse Corps scholarships

    Two- or Three-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, partial fee coverage, $750 book stipend, uniforms, and subsistence allowances
    • Deadline: The end of January for the school year you are applying for. Navy recruiters have more information on timeframes
    • Application Requirements:
      • Meet the basic requirements of the four-year scholarship
      • Minimum cumulative college GPA of 2.5
      • Earned between 30 and 90 semester hours
    • Service Commitment:  Same as a four-year scholarship

    Air Force ROTC Scholarships

    High School and College Students

    Type 1

    • What it covers: Three to four years of full tuition, partial fee coverage, and book stipends
    • Deadline: The scholarship application window is open from July 1 through Dec. 31 each year.
    • Application Requirements:
      • Enroll in a scientific or technical degree program
      • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
      • Complete a scholarship interview
      • Complete the Physical Fitness Assessment
      • Attend summer field training
      • Complete General Military and Professional Officer courses
    • Service Commitment: Minimum of four years of active duty

    Type 2

    • What it covers: Three to four years of book stipends, fee coverage, and tuition with a cap of $18,000 a year
    • Deadline: The scholarship application window is open from July 1 through Dec. 31 each year.
    • Application Requirements: Same as Type 1 scholarship
    • Service Commitment: Same as Type 1 scholarship

    Type 7

    • What it covers: Three to four years of book stipends and tuition capped at your college’s in-state rate
    • Deadline: The scholarship application window is open from July 1 through Dec. 31 each year.
    • Application Requirements: Same as Type 1 scholarship
    • Service Commitment: Same as Type 1 scholarship

    Air Force ROTC In-College Scholarship Program (ICSP)

    If you were not awarded a scholarship out of high school, you have the chance to compete for in-college scholarships in the spring of your freshman year term, and again in the fall as a sophomore. Scholarship availability will depend from term to term based on funding.  Consideration for scholarships reviews the following: Commander’s ranking in the cadet class, cumulative GPA, and physical fitness assessment scores.

    ICSP Scholarships Available:

    • Type 1: uncapped tuition/fees
    • Type 2: $18,000/year tuition/fees
    • Type 3: $9,000/year tuition/fees
    • Type 6: $3,000/year tuition/fees

    Enlisted Airmen

    If you are an enlisted airman, you may qualify for the following scholarships:

    Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program (ASCP)

    ASCP lets you separate from active duty and get a scholarship worth up to $18,000 per academic year. You’ll enroll as a full-time college student in the Air Force ROTC program and receive an annual textbook allowance and a monthly stipend. When you graduate, you’ll be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

    AFROTC Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program (POC-ERP)

    This program offers you a chance for an early release from active duty to enter AFROTC, become a full-time college student, and receive a commission in the Air Force. Upon graduation and completion of ROTC requirements, you’ll be commissioned as a second lieutenant, return to active duty and serve for at least four years.

    Scholarships For Outstanding Airmen To ROTC (SOAR)

    If you are an active duty airman, the SOAR program lets you leave active duty and receive an ROTC scholarship worth up to $18,000 per year. Upon graduation and completion of ROTC requirements, you’ll be commissioned as a second lieutenant, return to active duty, and serve for at least four years.

    Conclusion

    If you are interested in becoming an officer in the U.S. military, ROTC scholarships are a great option for having your college education paid for and pursue an exciting, rewarding, and challenging career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. military.


    About The AuthorJim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.


    Related Articles
    Joining ROTC In College Air Force ROTC Requirements
    How to Apply to a Military Service Academy Military Academies
    Military Fitness High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
    Written by MilitaryBenefits