Peace Time: September 6, 2001


For years after Vietnam, the U.S. military had a hard time attracting students to its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Long a major source of new officers, it has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Part of the appeal is the new and improved 1995 scholarship program, which provides up to $16,000 a year in payments to cover tuition and living expenses. This is much more flexible and generous than the pre-1995 programs. Many students these days take out government or private loans to pay for college and graduating with a lot of debt is not very popular. The ROTC program involves taking extra courses and spending at least one Summer taking a six week training course. You can volunteer for other Summer programs. After you graduate, you have to serve eight years (usually 3-4 years active duty, the rest in the reserves.) There are other obligations. You have to stay in shape and pass all the military and academic ROTC courses. If you fail, you either have to pay back the money or do enlisted service. As ROTC has become more popular, the armed forces have been able to be more selective. Some 270 colleges participate in the program. The new 1995 system is more attractive to students at expensive private schools. ROTC still has a problem attracting high SAT and minority students, mainly because those groups have more access to financial aid. 


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