The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is the largest commissioning source for U.S. Army officers. ROTC units are spread out around 273 different host colleges and over 1400 campuses around America. Joining an ROTC unit is the one way for college students to explore military service with no commitment to join the military. For anyone thinking about joining ROTC, here are some reasons to consider doing so.
Build Leadership Skills - There is not a class on campus that will build student leadership skills more than ROTC. In our Military Science classes Cadets learn leadership techniques that help them to progressively lead larger groups of people. Their skills are tested by leading fellow Cadets during basic military skills training as well as organizing and executing volunteer activities in the local community.
Scholarship Benefits - For good reason the benefit most often associated with ROTC is our scholarship program. ROTC has a robust number of scholarships that both high school and college students can apply for. High school students can apply for ROTC National Scholarships. Students selected for a National Scholarship will receive either a 4-year scholarship or a 3-year advanced designee scholarship to pay for college.
Students who are already in college can still enroll into ROTC and apply for campus-based scholarships as well. Every student enrolled in Freshman and Sophomore level classes is considered eligible to be awarded an Army 2- or 3-year scholarship. These scholarships are based on the students' academic, physical fitness, and ROTC performance. The awarding of scholarships depends upon available funding from the Department of the Army down to Coastal Carolina University.
Students not interested in pursuing an Active-Duty military career have the option to pursue a scholarship through the South Carolina National Guard or the U.S. Army Reserve. The Guard and Reserves offer scholarships to pay for college in return for commissioning as an officer into the National Guard or Reserve. If you want to serve your country, but still pursue a civilian career, the Guard and Reserves is the way to do this.
There are additional Coastal scholarships in varying amounts that eligible ROTC cadets may be awarded.
Receive a $420 a Month Stipend - One of the least known benefits of joining ROTC is the ability to receive a stipend for all contracted cadets, not just scholarship cadets. All Cadets that contract into the ROTC program receive a $420 a month pro-rated stipend. There are not many organizations that will give students an opportunity for a scholarship, but, then pay them each month a stipend to go to school.
Tuition Assistance outside of ROTC - In addition to the leadership skills an ROTC Cadet learns in the classroom once they contract with ROTC, they are currently eligible to join a National Guard or Army Reserve unit without having to go to Basic Training. They will be assigned as an Officer Candidate and serve in that capacity. In this role they will be paid over $300 for their drill weekends with their assigned unit. This in addition to the $420 stipend they receive. This is a totally volunteer program.
Both the Army Reserve and the National Guard offer tuition assistance to members regardless of their affiliation with an ROTC program. However, if you want the Officer Candidate, no Basic Training, option you must do ROTC. The Army Reserve offers up to $4000 a year in Federal Tuition Assistance. The South Carolina National Guard offers the same Federal Tuition Assistance, $4,000; plus, State Tuition Assistance of $5,500 per year.
Members of the Armed Forces, regardless of service, stationed in South Carolina on Active Duty, or with a drilling Army Reserve unit, or with a South Carolina National Guard unit may be eligible for the Coastal Carolina University's Military Tuition Reduction program. Eligible members of the Armed Forces receive a tuition reduction to $3,500 a semester or $7,000 a year.
ROTC Opportunities outside of normal College Opportunities
Attend Challenging Training & Internships - In ROTC our Cadets progressively master basic soldier skills such as land navigation and rifle marksmanship, but they also have the opportunity to attend advanced U.S. Army training such as Airborne School and Air Assault School. If you ever wondered what it is like to jump out of an airplane, rappel out of a helicopter Army ROTC may give you the chance to do this.
Another aspect of ROTC few people know about, are the amount of Cadet Command sponsored internships available to Cadets. Each summer there are over 80 internships with over 200 positions available for Cadets to intern at. If selected, Cadets my find themselves working in government agencies and civilian corporations. In recent summers we have had Cadets attend internships State Department and the Army Cyber Initiative. Cadets can also intern with active duty military units to experience what it is like to be an Army officer. Whatever your interest may be the Army likely has an internship for you.
Improve Your Physical Fitness - To get in shape many people buy expensive gym memberships or pay for the services of a personal trainer. If you want to get fit forget paying for a gym membership and instead join ROTC. We have a robust and challenging physical fitness program that is designed to get people who have not exercised before into shape. However, just like all fitness programs, you get out of it what you are willing to put into it.
Well Paying Job after Graduation - Finding a well-paying job after graduation can be a stressful time for graduating students. This is not a problem for ROTC graduates who commission as an Active-Duty officer after graduation. A Second Lieutenant fresh out of college makes over $43,500 in annual pay. In addition to this pay they also receive an allowance for sustenance of an additional $3,700; along with a housing allowance to pay for rent based on the cost of living of where they are stationed. This will add $12,000+/- annually to an officer’s take home pay. For an Active-Duty officer, the starting pay is around $60,000 with all benefits and allowances. Besides the pay, Army officers also receive full health and dental coverage, life insurance, base privileges, and a robust retirement package.
Finally, pay increases with time and rank in service. The saying is that you are no more than a year away from a pay raise. Each year there is a cost-of-living increase and every two years an Officer receives a longevity raise. The large increases come from promotions. All Officers serving successfully, are promoted after the first 18-24 months in the service and once again around their four-year anniversary. For example, an officer is generally promoted to Captain after four years of service. A Captain is paid $72,000 annually. The housing allowance pushes the captain’s pay to nearly $100,000 dollars. How many career fields pay nearly a six-figure salary after only being out of college for four years? Not many.
A student commissioning into the Reserve Component, Army Reserve or National Guard, can plan on receiving over $8,000 in additional income a year while serving. The minimum time commitment for this is a weekend a month and two weeks, normally in the summer, a year. However, depending on their duty position the time requirement may be higher.
A Wide Variety of Career Paths to Choose From - When most people think of Army jobs, they think of the Infantry. However, being in the Infantry is only one of the 17 Army career fields that an ROTC Cadet can pursue. Do you want to learn how to fly helicopters? Cadets become Military Intelligence analysts, Cyber warriors, logisticians, tank commanders, engineers, nurses, among a host of other Army branches. If you have a particular career interest, the Army will likely have a branch to match that interest that you can specialize in.
Make Lifelong Friends - Going to college is a stressful enough experience, made even harder by the prospect of having to make a whole new network of friends. Army ROTC can help you not only make new friends on campus, but new friends for life. The bonding experience Cadets go through in ROTC carries over into their future military and civilian careers where graduates stay in touch and serve together on military bases in the U.S. and around the world.
ROTC is a blast and gives you a much different college experience than other students. You will meet amazing people, be pushed beyond your limits, and accomplish goals that before may not have seen possible. Best of all is that you are doing all of this with some of your best friends!
Serve A Cause Bigger Than Yourself - Being in the Army is not a job, but a profession where Soldiers have the opportunity to serve their country and be part of something bigger then themselves. In ROTC our Cadets learn to be part of something bigger than themselves by being active on campus and in various volunteer events in the region. For those that want to do something for a greater cause joining ROTC is a way to do this.