Happy Students

ROTC Scholarships

The ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) program is one of the most overlooked means for obtaining a college scholarship-and a full scholarship at that. However, there is misguided information (mainly regarding military, active duty obligations) that keeps many students from getting into college on a full-ride.

Enlisted Woman

What it Covers

Four-year ROTC scholarships cover full tuition, book allowances, and a monthly stipend that increases from the cadet's freshman year to their senior year. We bet that got your attention — not even star athletes on full scholarship receive a monthly stipend!

Service Obligation

Now, let's address the elephant in the room, will the student have to serve in active duty after graduation in exchange for the free college education courtesy of the ROTC program? The answer is both yes and no. An ROTC student has the option to enroll in an ROTC program without service obligations post-graduation. The service obligations come into the picture if the student decides to contract into the ROTC program to become an officer after their schooling. This option is most likely to come up in the cadet's junior year. If the student decides to take this route, he or she will then commit to becoming a military officer after their final year. Depending on the program chosen, the student will graduate as a:

  • Second Lieutenant (Army)
  • Navy Ensign (Navy)
  • Second Lieutenant (Marine Corps)

As newly graduated military officers, students have the option of entering into active or reserve duty. Reserve cadets serve in their local Reserve or National Guard units one weekend each month, whereas active duty (full-time) officers serve for two, four, or six years. The standard arrangement includes four years of active duty followed by two years of reserve duty as an on-call civilian.

Improve Your Chances

The best way to increase your chances of a full ROTC scholarship is to participate in an ROTC program in high school, preferably before senior year. If you are part of the program for at least two years, you'll have more opportunities to build a relationship with the ROTC commander, who can then go out of their way to "pull strings." These commanders have major connections, especially among HBCUs. However, even though the high school ROTC commander can connect you with the right people, it's crucial to do your part. This means maintaining a high GPA and obtaining as high an SAT score as possible.

These full-ride scholarships must be earned. Therefore, it's important to participate in several extracurricular, leadership, community, and volunteer activities throughout high school. The ROTC committee loves seeing applications that show a student who exudes leadership skills and a sense of giving back to the community. Trust us — this will significantly contribute to placing you ahead of the pack.


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