ROTC vs Athletic Scholarship

I’m hoping someone can assist… my daughter has a full ride to play volleyball at a small D1 school. We pay $500/semester plus books (which is a very minimal cost since the athletic dept has books for her to borrow). We know that she is very fortunate.

She is currently a sophomore and now feels like she wants to join the school’s Army ROTC. She believes that the Army is a means to an end for her. She would like a job in Foreign Affairs and believes that being in the Army will help her achieve that (she is interested in military intelligence).

She has been training with the school’s ROTC and has been told she should apply for the ROTC scholarship. She has also been told (and I believe this is incorrect) that if she gets the ROTC scholarship she can “pocket” it because she has no financial need (everything is paid for via her athletic scholarship).

I’ve tried to talk to her about this but cannot make any headway. She said her coach is encouraging her to apply for the ROTC scholarship (of course, because then she has one more athletic scholarship to work with).

My questions –

  1. If she gets this ROTC scholarship, can she really pocket the money since she already has a full athletic scholarship?
  2. where can I find information in regards to ROTC scholarships?
  3. is there any advantage to joining ROTC now (her sophomore year) rather than waiting until graduation and then perhaps going to OTS?

I truly believe that since she does not need a scholarship, she should keep all her options open. There is no reason to “give back” her volleyball scholarship only to get a ROTC scholarship and then have a 4-8 year commitment when she graduates. Help!!!

Since no one has responded, I’ll take a stab as an ROTC grad and 20 year military veteran, however, I would also verify my responses…

1 - No, you cannot pocket the money. The scholarship pays for all tuition, books and fees, plus a small monthly ($200?) stipend.

2 - Google Army ROTC and talk to the school’s unit commander

3 - No, since she is still on an athletic scholarship. Being ROTC, OTS or West Point commissioned makes no difference in career path. Note, all the services have Foreign Affairs Officers, but that is usually a sub specialty that one applies for after. Once again, do a Google search.

Best of luck to your daughter. We need smart kids like her to serve our nation.

  1. No. She can’t pocket the money. The money for tuition, fees, etc go directly to the school. If her tuition is balance is zero, then the Army doesn’t pay.

What she does get to pocket is the monthly stipend. Since your daughter is a sophomore, she would start her ROTC career next academic year as a junior. They get $450/month as juniors and $500/month as seniors. As you know from having a child in college already, that’s not some chump change. When my D16 started off in college, we gave her a $500/month allowance for incidentals, going out to eat, laundry, club membership dues, etc… She never came close to using the money so we kicked her monthly allowance down quite a few notches. Your D will be living large, relatively speaking, on $450-$500/month.

There’s also a book allowance if she’s on ROTC scholarship. I don’t know if a check is given to her based on the receipts she turns in or if a flat rate is given to her so she can pocket what she doesn’t use of her book allowance.

  1. Talk to the Army ROTC PMS at her school for scholarship info. The website is also helpful.

  2. This is the tough question. I don’t have much insight on the numbers of officer sources (USMA, ROTC, OCS, etc). However, my experience has been OCS slots are very competitive. If your D wants as close to a guaranteed commission in the Army as there is available, then ROTC is the way to go. Granted, even ROTC doesn’t guarantee an active duty commission. She has to compete for those slots. If she doesn’t get an active duty commission, then she can get a commission in the US Army Reserves.

So, yes, there is an advantage to doing ROTC in college if she wants a commission in the Army. You have a better chance of getting that active duty commission in the Army by joining ROTC than getting a slot at OCS. The wild card factor is if she wants an active duty vs reserve commission. She will have to perform well at LDAC during the summer after her junior year, get a high GPA, and good recommendation from the ROTC cadre at her school. All those are very much in her control. I guess the biggest question is how bad does she want to be an officer in the Army?
The answer will be the biggest driver in your athletic scholarship vs ROTC scholarship dilemma.