Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How College Financial Aid Works


Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

Many parents who were in school in the 1960s will remember that Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs fell out of favor with a lot of people. Well, times have changed. Today, ROTC programs are more popular than ever. Army ROTC enrollment for the 2008-2009 school year totaled 30,721 cadets, an eight percent increase over the previous year [source: Badders]. ROTC programs aren't for everyone, but they might be right for you.

Offered by the Army, Air Force and Navy (not at every school, so check the brochure), ROTC programs provide participants with scholarship funds for tuition (sometimes full, sometimes partial), books, fees and a monthly stipend of $300 a month for first-year students up to $500 a month for fourth-year participants [source: GoArmy]. Students are expected to take a few military science classes, participate in drills and attend summer camp programs. Following graduation, ROTC students are required to spend some period of time on active or reserve duty.

As you consider ROTC programs, don't forget about the free clothing -- hats and shoes, nice travel bags (all in military colors, of course) -- summer vacations, and the fact that you don't have to look for a job following graduation. The possibility of subsidized graduate work can be an additional benefit.

For a few final bits of advice, head to the next page.