LTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.
Applying for an ROTC Scholarship
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Most of my 'coaching' focus is with students who are applying to the U.S. service academies; however, students should not forget that about 60% of all Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine and Space Force officers earned their commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp. Approximately 30% come through the three majors service academies: USAFA, USMA and USNA.
ROTC scholarships are very attractive and can be earned through an application during your senior year of high school. They are also earned as a ROTC cadet through on-campus (awarded) scholarships. In fact, this year, the Air Force moved the majority of its funding to the college-based scholarships. Their reasoning was that these candidates are already proving their mettle by participating in AFROTC, doing college-level work and demonstrating their commitment to the program (as the majority are paying their own tuition at that point in their college journey).
An ROTC scholarship covers your college tuition, books and fees as well as paying you a monthly stipend of about $500. What's more, with a little research, you will find a number of schools across the country that will provide additional funds if you 'bring' your scholarship to their campus. For example, one of my students attends the University of Kentucky under an Army ROTC scholarship. The school provided enough dollars in his freshman year to cover almost all of his room and board. What a great deal!
All of my students apply to both service academy and ROTC scholarships. As you can imagine, the competition for these appointments and scholarships is very high. Each program leads to the same destination -- earning a military officer's commission. I have had students earn ROTC scholarships and then reapply to the one or more of the service academies as a college freshman. It can be a very effective approach. However, on the other hand, a number of my college students decided not to pursue an academy appointment because they simply loved where they were and the ROTC program on campus.
Preparations for ROTC scholarships follow the same ideas as the service academies. They are looking for student leaders with strong academic qualifications and athletic involvement. Students must pre-select five universities or colleges to which they will apply along with selecting three alternative majors that you will pursue at these schools. Don't forget to apply to the schools you listed as you must be accepted into the school to use your scholarship. Selection for the scholarship will direct you to one of these schools to work toward one of the majors you noted.
To qualify for an ROTC scholarship, you must pass your medical and eye exam through the Department of Defense Medical Examination Board (DoDMERB). You will take this examination set after you are awarded a scholarship. Often, if you applied for a service academy appointment, this step will already be accomplished. Lastly, and very importantly, you must pass the physical fitness exam for your ROTC program when you arrive as a freshman and report into the ROTC program. CAUTION: cadets fail this test all the time! Don't be one of those who has to chase their scholarship dollars after failing the PFT. Arrive in great shape!
How do you start? Use the links below to open your application. All will be available to start in the summer of your senior year.
Air Force ROTC link for high school students
Army ROTC link for high school students
Navy ROTC link for high school students
ROTC is a great path to earn your commission. Open an application and get started as soon as you can. Good luck!
[If you are interested, I would be pleased to work with you to pursue multiple ROTC scholarships . . . and service academy appointments too! Reach out to me and we can start a discussion: 503.515.7406 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org]