SMP: pros and cons

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by youtoo, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. youtoo

    youtoo Member

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    Looking for information on SMP as an option through college. DS has applied for AROTC scholarship - no word yet after two boards (one more in March). We are looking for pros and cons to SMP as his RO at his #1 said this may be an option if he is not awarded a scholarship. :thumb: OR:thumbdown: anyinput will be appreciated.
     
  2. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    The Pros:
    real world experience as a drilling cadet
    non deployable
    Tuition assistance
    Possibly GI Bill (If cadet attends basic and AIT)
    Contracts as early as Sophomore year and starts to receive stipend
    Drill pay

    Cons
    Must drill monthly
    May be talked into attending Basic and AIT and missing a semester of school, which puts that cadet out of synch with peers
    If Cadet doesn't file paperwork they may miss out on TA

    http://goldenknightbattalion.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/smp-another-option/

    have about 20% of my cadets in the SMP program. Usually my cadets at low cost schools, who are not on scholarship are actually making more money than the cadets on scholarship. At a high cost school SMP will help pay for school.
     
  3. paradoxer

    paradoxer Member

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    What about campus based scholarships?

    Would you first try for a campus based scholarship during your freshman year? What are the pros and cons to this approach over SMP?
     
  4. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    You can sign up for SMP while you still pursue a campus based scholarship. If you receive the scholarship you will have to leave the SMP program unless that scholarship becomes a GRFD scholarship (locks you into Guard or Reserves). Waiting to get to campus is always my recommendation. What often happens is that the recruiter talks the applicant into attending Basic and AIT after senior year of high school. This does two things. It allows the cadet to become MOS qualified, which allows them to use GI bill and often receive a GI Bill kicker ($250 a month). This also often causes the applicant to miss a semester of school, and put them out of synch. Is the value added of GI bill worth putting off starting school on time? My other concern is that some applicants go to basic and are "bedazzled" by the enlisted life (usually the Hooah young studs). They end up returning to campus without the focus and drive to maintain their academics. There is also the possibility of getting injured, or not completing basic on time. If your first priority is earning the degree my advice is to come to campus and get started that way. Others will disagree with me (especially recruiters), and your decision will have to take into account personal finances and motivations that may be counter to what I suggest.

    You do not have to attend Basic to do the SMP program
    You are non deployable until you become MOS qualified or commission
    You can still go Active Duty is you are SMP

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2011
  5. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Clarkson,

    Thank you for posting on the SMP topic again. I was glad to see the question of campus based vs SMP addressed. Just had this discussion with the ROO at DS #1 school. ROO mentioned campus based scholarship for the first time, mentioned they are difficult to predict, but in light of the boards being "different" this year, he felt his BN had a stronger probablility of receiving some of these funds. Apparently this school has kept a OML of sorts, perhaps this is common for ROOs, my DS is now their top non-scholarshiped prospect going into March board. So, still no answer, but encouraging.

    SMP, if DS, goes this route, will be with a National Guard unit and we will use a recruiter from the university so that his drills will be close to school and hopefully less disruptive to his studies. Keep this in mind as you talk with recruiters - my DS will be 3 hours away, if we complete the process here at home he will have to add that travel time to each weekend drill. They may downplay how difficult it might be to transfer units, but our recruiter was pretty blunt, transfers don't always take place, why chance it. Also, a unit with his school area will include the other SMP cadets he will live with on campus, upper classman too. The unit that includes his university is well aware that these cadets want their degree, not an enlisted life. Just my 2cents on that.
    Ask the ROOs at your schools about local SMP Guard/Reserve recruiters.

    Hope everyone is adapting to the March board frame of mind. We are getting there, and remaining hopeful but realistic too.
     
  6. WJUW

    WJUW Member

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    Thank you Clarkson for your information.

    I am wondering if you would suggest AFROTC cadets (non-contracted, not on scholarship) who did not get an EA for FT to switch to AROTC and do SMP if they are indifferent between the two branches, ie. they jobs they want in the military exist in both branches?

    How much is TA and is it pretty easy to fill in paperwork for it? I go a lower-cost school which about $3000/quarter, so 10k per year.
     
  7. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    I'm not the expert, but my understanding is that TA usually equals to cost of a state school. In my case it usually pays the SUNY tuition.

    If becoming an Officer is the goal, I would encourage any AF cadet who didn't get a summer training slot to consider Army. We are a little less picky about majors, and aren't really looking to downsize at this time. Keep in mind that there are no guarantees on jobs, so be sure you are OK with becoming a transportation or field artillery or ordinance officer. If you do SMP you will also have the option of staying in the Guard or Reserves if Active Duty isn't your cup of tea.
     
  8. WJUW

    WJUW Member

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    Thank you sir.

    Quite the contrary, AD is what I want. I am sure we will get some help and advice on the future once we know the result of EAs.
     
  9. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Who funds the SMP program? If it is the states, will they continue to fund SMP rather than lay off teachers?
     
  10. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Are you having fun? Funding SMP has ZERO to do with laying off teachers.

    SMP stands for Silmoutaneous Membership Program. It is a program of the Army National Guard and Army Reserves.
    The Federal Government provides incentives to both programs to encourage young people to enlist or commission as officers.
    Anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the last 10 years knows these two Wars have largely been fought by Guardsmen and Reserve soldiers.

    The tuition assistance is Federal. If you accept it you may still commission Active Duty. It is $4500/fiscal year. You can use it in one semester.

    States also fund Guard units and many states provide financial incentives to Guardsmen in their state. If you accept State $$$ for college funding then you will either be bound to commission in to that State's National Guard or pay it back.
     
  11. bdaMom

    bdaMom Member

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    Another Option:

    To avoid disrupting college, my son did split option with the Reserves. He went to BCT the summer after high school graduation and made it back just in time to start his freshman year at college. He will do AIT this summer, and start SMP his sophomore year. This is good in that his college schedule is normal, however you don't get the full $ benefits freshman year. He was paid full-time for BCT (and will be for AIT), and of course his monthly drill pay. For TA we had a really hard time getting an answer from anyone on how to get it started. Finally we found it's all done through goarmyed.com. Once we figured it out, it wasn't too bad. The max paid was $250 per credit hour. So for his 15 credits during the semester, it paid $3,750. They pay the college directly. The GI Bill and Kicker don't go into effect until after he does AIT. When my son enlisted a year ago, the SR Montgomery GI Bill was set at $11,844 = $329 per month for 36 academic months. His kicker was set at $200/mo at that time. So these amounts will begin his sophomore year, as well as the ROTC stipend and drill pay at the E5 rate.

    He was also offered a 3-year ROTC scholarship while he was away at BCT. He is currently in the process of deciding whether to take the scholarship on it's own, accept it as a GRFD scholarship (as stated by clarksonarmy), or turn down the scholarship and do Reserves/SMP. When you add it all up, each route is good and has it's own pros and cons. At this point he is leaning towards turning down the scholarship and doing SMP because he still wants to compete for AD, and it also gives him a little more flexibility and keeps his Reserves status.
     
  12. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    I wasn't aware that SMP was federally funded. I thought it was funded by the states and that the states would attempt to tell the feds that it can't assume the National Defense role any longer as comprehensively as it has in the past, because it needs the funds for other state-funded projects, like paying teachers. Of course, if SMP draws its funds from the federal government, then this program does not affect the state budget and should continue unabated as it has in the past 10 years.

    I'm not sure what you meant by the "Are you having fun?" comment. Hopefully, that wasn't intended to insult. If you disagree with any issue that I suggest, please deal with the merits of the issue (like positing that SMP is federally funded, not state-funded) and not make it personal. Please.
     
  13. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    I have no idea what your point was in equating SMP with laying off teachers unless you are attempting to incit controversy where there is none. Maybe you can explain better for me.

    There is no "FUNDING" for SMP. It is a program. To belong to the SMP one must sign an ENLISTMENT contract and a ROTC contract and belong to both - simultaneously.

    There are "incentives" for Guard and Reserve soldiers - whether or not they belong to the SMP. As it is in the best interest of the Federal Government to have a ready availability of NG troops to call up the Federal Government provides tuition assistance to soldiers as an incentive to enlist in the Reserves and Guard. Those who simultaneously have a enlistment contract AND a ROTC contract are also eligible.

    Do you have any first hand knowledge that soldiers benefits and other incentives are being cut? I have not heard that and would be interested in that information. If you don't then it's probably appropriate not to speculate too heavily.

    Since the Army National Guard is both state funded and federally funded - they fall under the Governor unless activated by the President. Hence, SOME states offer INCENTIVES to their National Guard soldiers. These incentives are available to those in SMP - but may contract them to commission and join a unit in their state. Each state makes their own rules and the benefits may vary from state to state.

    I am still trying to figure out where laying off teachers is in the equation.
     
  14. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Thank you for clearing that up. It appears that my concerns over state budgets were entirely unfounded. I am THRILLED to hear that things will be "business as usual" going forward for our state National Guard units, seeking to provide financial incentives in the form of tuition assistance to many of our terrific DS/DDs. Given that the federal government has determined to slash $100 billion in the federal Pell grant program (http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/13/news/economy/obama_budget_pell_grants/index.htm), coupled with the fact that many, many states are facing major budget shortfalls right now, I was a bit concerrned. However, hearing now that the states do not intend to reciprocate in similar tuition assistance programs on the state level is very welcome news indeed.

    I was also under the mistaken impression that many students pursue SMP because of the financial incentives that come along with that program. I regret that I was not well-informed about that subject.

    All: I apologize for raising the concern that I did. It appears now that my concern was entirely misplaced. Please know, though, that my comment was definitely not intended to incite.
     
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Let's stick with the FACTs as they are today. Of course they could change tomorrow but if anyone wants to guess - that might make for another fun thread.

    It's difficult to discuss advantages/disadvantages because one person's advantage might be another's disadvantage ---

    In SMP - you drill once a month and attend summer training. Just like any NG soldier would. You sign an ENLISTMENT CONTRACT. If you drop out of college, you are an enlisted soldier.

    Once you sign your ROTC contract you cannot go to Basic or AIT and if you have already attended, you are non-deployable.

    ROTC cadets who are in SMP may find additionally opportunities for some Army training - Guard units often have slots available for Airborne, Air Assault etc and it MIGHT be easier to nab one as a SMP cadet.

    Finances -
    If a SMP soldier is attending a state university and from out of state - they usually will get in-state tuition as a NG soldier in that state. In other words, a ROTC cadet from PA goes to JMU and enlists in the Va National Guard -they will then get in-state tuition.
    Federal tuition assistance is $4500/fiscal year.
    Contracted SMP cadets will earn drill pay at the E-5 rate PLUS their ROTC stipend.

    Time in service - this begins when enlisted. If, when you are commissioned you have been enlsited for 2+ years your O-1 pay will get a bump over that of your AROTC scholarship and USMA grad peers. It also counts toward retirement.

    Attending Basic and AIT - some want to and others don't.
    Your timing is everything. If you enlist during your sophomore year and contract at the end of your sophomore year you won't have to go to Basic. If you enlist during your freshman year you will most likely be sent that summer as you cannot contract with ROTC yet. But - hey its a summer job.
    Recruiting: There also is a program called G-RAP. If you sign up a soldier in the guard - you can earn a bouns of $2000 when they report to basic. Some SMP cadets have earned extra $$$ by referring fellow cadets to SMP.

    Finally remember that Federal financial aid - Pell grants and Stafford Loans are a product of the Department of Education. Federal Tuition Assistance for Soldiers is a benefit under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.
     
  16. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    JAM,

    Thank you for posting so many details about SMP options. I learned a new fact-I didn't know they cannot go to basic once the ROTC portion of their contracts are signed. Will have DS read your update, he can then have questions for our Ohio recruiters since he's most interested in NG option. Sometimes you just need to know the right questions to ask.:wink:
     
  17. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    I agree with JAM that we shouldn't tie up this thread about issues related to the budget. However, just so everyone knows in terms of setting the right expectations going forward, JAM is also correct that things could change tomorrow. As the Department of Defense confirmed last week, "there will be reductions or added usage restrictions which will impact the military tuition assistance programs".

    http://military-education.military.com/2011/02/tuition-assistance-and-the-military-budget/

    Everyone should also realize that this does NOT mean that folks should not explore SMP and actively pursue it. On the contrary. Just do it with eyes wide open, with REASONABLE expectations (definitely avoid a "business as usual" approach), and have a backup plan in place just in case. All of this is aimed at minimizing risk for would-be applicants, not incitement.
     
  18. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Bingo. Hopefully, some comments will spur discussion for those who are considering SMP.

    SMP is not for every ROTC cadet. Some units will not have a Guard unit close by, others will. Sometimes it just doesn't work out well with college etc.

    They need to have their own transportation to drill - for some this means having a car. Drill is a part time job that may not always be flexible.

    Also - the kicker and MGIB that bdaMom refers to is only available to those who attend Basic and AIT.

    They used to allow contracted cadets attend Basic and AIT. This has stopped, I was told, because so many ROTC cadets were then dropping out of college when their units deployed to deploy with them. They were then delaying or not finishing their degree at a time when the Guard/Reserves/AD needs junior officers.

    SMP cadets are not deployable however, some units offer to deploy them if they take the time off school. Just so you know.

    I almost forgot - SMP cadets get a Military ID card and military discounts (usually). They get base privileges including exchance and commisary which is great if there is a base nearby.
     

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