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How Financial Aid for ROTC Works

Program Commitments for ROTC Financial Aid

By accepting an ROTC scholarship in any of the armed forces, students are required to complete some military course work and training during college in addition to their normal coursework. Also, all enrollees must commit to serving on active duty when they graduate. The length of time varies slightly between each branch and the terms of the scholarship itself, but all recipients are commissioned as officers in their respective branch upon graduation.

Army ROTC cadets who receive four-year scholarships are required to serve in the Army for eight years. Four years must be active duty and the balance may be served in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Cadets in college who accept three- or two-year scholarships may have lesser service terms.Army ROTC cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants upon graduation [source: U.S. Army: Scholarship].

Graduates from NROTC scholarship programs are commissioned as Ensigns in the U.S. Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Navy NROTC scholarship recipients must serve at least five years of active duty after graduation, and people who receive Navy Nurse Corps and Marine Corps scholarships must serve at least four years of active duty [source: U.S. NROTC: Requirements].

AFROTC scholarship cadets, once they've completed their academic degree requirements, are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force. Most cadets that complete the Professional Officer Course are responsible for serving four years of active duty, but there are some exceptions. Pilots are required to serve 10 years, and combat systems officers are required to serve six [source: U.S. AFROTC: Careers]. The extra commitment is based on the amount of additional training and resources committed to these students.

These are some of the general terms of accepting ROTC scholarships, but students interested in pursuing any of these options should speak with a military recruiter in their area who can help them make an informed decision.

In the next section, we'll discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks to ROTC scholarships.