SMP vs. 3 yr. What is the difference at graduation?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by 1luckydad, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    Son just earned a coveted scholarship. But it's not a 4yr like his older brother got 2 yrs ago. Its a 3 yr. Active army Col. friend and my older son are telling me an SMP may be preferable. 4yr son says other than boot camp, the SMP guys have the same status in the battalion and have more money issued to them.

    Should we go the SMP route rather the accept the 3yr. scholarship? What would be the downside of going SMP rather than accepting 3/4 yr. scholarships?
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    There is a lot to research about SMP, it's a good program but you need to understand all the aspects before signing up.

    SMP cadets do not contract until as early as the start of their sophomore year. Depending on the size of the battalion and the number of contracts they have available, the competition for those contracts can be high. The SMP cadet will be competing with all other SMP's and non scholarship cadets for the contracts. Contracts for SMP cadets are not a guarantee.

    To get the full amount available a SMP cadet must complete BCT and AIT both, this is to be able to get the GI Bill and Kicker. The amount paid for tuition can vary from state to state. To complete BCT and AIT before starting school the SMP cadet would have to at least miss the first semester, or the first year of school unless they do a split option. This means the SMP could complete BCT the summer after high school and AIT the following summer. Squeezing BCT in after high school is tough depending on when high school ends and college starts. Most ROO's that post here do not advise starting school the second semester.

    How much SMP is worth compared to a 3 year scholarship depends on the schools tuition and how much SMP will pay toward tuition.

    There is an option of getting a GRFD scholarship through SMP which would pay for College, the issue is that if you take the GRFD you are obligated to the National Guard, active duty is not an option.

    There is always the possibility that your son's scholarship could be upgraded to a 3.5 or possibly even a full 4yr once he starts college, if he comes prepared, does very well on his APFT and starts strong with his GPA. This happened to at least 3 cadets at my son's school this year alone.

    Others will give you information regarding SMP in more depth.

    The fact is, before you jump to that option make sure you do a lot of research, talk more with the cadre at the battalion. Find out if they have any SMP cadets that do not get a contract.

    The other thing to keep in mind, if your son decides to drop the program or is let go for any reason, even during the first year, he will be obligated to fullfil his Reserve/NG commitment.
     
  3. Marist College ROTC

    Marist College ROTC Member

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    SMP Cadets have to attend monthly drill and ROTC events. The extra time commitment is compensated by the monthly drill check.

    Tuition assistance varies from state to state. Check with your state to ensure you are eligible for any benefits that you find mentioned on this site.

    As a 3 yr AD you will not contract with ROTC during your freshman year and will be subject to mobilization upon completion of Basic Training.
     
  4. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Did you mean...As a SMP
     
  5. HopefulMom13

    HopefulMom13 Member

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    Just a quick question -- how do you know that your DS got the 3 yr and not the 4 yr scholarship? Did you already receive your letter??
     
  6. ArmyRetired

    ArmyRetired Member

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    Great Advice!
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I assume they were either contacted or called the ROO at the school he received the scholarship.
     
  8. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    Thank-you! The smoke is starting to clear.....a little. So the ROTC scholarship = I'm definitely wanting and qualified to be an Army officer. I have a spot. And the SMP = I am a soldier who is using Federal funds designed for a soldier to continue his education who by the way desires to become an officer and to do so must compete for slots that are left that the scholarship guys don't use. Is that about the size of it? :guns6:
     
  9. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    As a very basic explanation, yes. There are a lot of in's and out's that need to be researched depending on what state the NG unit is in.

    For the most part if a 3yr scholarship cadet meets the requirements of ROTC the first year they will get a contract the start of their sophomore year. They would have to be below standards or really mess up not to be contracted.

    There is a poster on this board, OhioParent, who's son is a SMP cadet and is doing very well, hopefully she will pop on here with some more details.
     
  10. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    Wish I could say but can't. But no we have not received letter yet. I do know most of the 15 scholarships 2 years ago were 4yr. Last year the overwhelming majority were 3yr. I can say that.
     
  11. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    The majority of scholarships I have seen coming out of out batt were 3 year which is a stark contrast to the plethora of 4 year and a few 4.5 year ( nurses) given just a few years ago.

    Jcleppe has given a good breakdown SMP already but I just want to reiterate that if you take any GFRD funds in any way you will be locked into the guard.
     
  12. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    One last item: To my understanding the SMP may be better for the career Army goaled ROTC student because he gets a 3-4 year jump on yrs of service for pension/retirement compared to the scholarship ROTC students.
     
  13. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    1luckydad -

    DS is a sucessful SMP/NG cadet. However, for the 15 contracts available there were 30-40 NG hopefuls - 3 were contracted this past fall as sophomores and the cadre are considering contracting the remainder at mid-terms this semester, pending academic review and APFT standings.

    DS did attend BCT the summer between freshman and sophomore year, will not attend AIT - wanted the contract not the GI Bill kicker, a lot of cadets need the additional funds, DS is blessed with NG tuition, merit tuition and a university that pays for basic room and board for eligble AROTC members.:thumb:

    I would strongly suggest your son take the 3 year offer on the table and show up and dazzle the cadre hoping to maybe get 3.5 instead:smile: JMHO.
    There are a lot more variables beyond his control jumping into the SMP pool.

    saw your post about the career jump of a few years -- this was mentioned to DS also, so yeah, not bad if you end up doing 20+
     
  14. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    Seems that any scholarship winner that would survive the 1st yr. (where 20% drop-out) should also have an equal chance of "winning" a contract in a pool of SMP's his Sophomore year. Even with a good chance of getting a 3.5 yr., the SMP route (on paper anyway) comes out on top on many counts. I really think any candidate would benefit from 9 weeks of boot camp as well.

    The +'s on the SMP side are; pay now, ARMY experience now, earlier entry time for later calc.'s for time in service, more money monthly in pay and paying benefits than benefit of scholarship stipend and tuition, flexibility to live off campus, and savings in the first year of college of room, board, and
    tuition.

    Why would you consider the 3 yr.,($20,000 more) or even the 3 1/2 yr. ($10,000 more) than the SMP route? Input from my older (soph. cadet) son
    who got 4 yr. scholarship and an active Col. friend (who got in thru SMP) indicates the SMP is better than a 3 or 3.5 scholarship and comparable to even a 4yr.
    Will be spending a good deal of time weighing our options these next few weeks.
    BTW son got his letter today and yes both choices were 3 yr. scholarships.
     
  15. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I'm not sure you really understand the SMP process when it comes to contracts. Just because a cadet "survives" the first year means nothing. If a battalion has only 15 contracts to give, and there are 30 cadets. The 4yr scholarship cadets will already have a contract leaving maybe 10 slots left. If there are 4 more 3yr scholarship cadets they will take those contracts. Now that leaves only 6 contracts left for the 21 SMP and Non scholarship cadets to compete for. Taking the 3yr scholarship will virtually guarantee the cadet will contract as long as they abide by the conditions to contract.

    The extra money that would make SMP attractive only comes after completing BCT and AIT. Again the earliest a SMP cadet can contract is the start of their sophomore year, many do not contract until the end of the sophomore year. If your son completes BCT prior to contracting he will be deployable. 3yr scholarship awardees are not deployable.

    Sounds like you have it all figured out for your son, but I think most who are awarded a 3yr scholarship will jump at the opportunity and avoid the risk in todays budget environment of not getting a contract. If a contract does not happen your son will be obligated to the Reserves/NG and will be deployable for the entire time he is college.

    If the chance of more money is the driving force then SMP may be the way to go, If looking for the safer route to a contract and a commission is the goal the the 3yr scholarship would be advised.
     
  16. 1luckydad

    1luckydad Member

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    So much appreciate the feedback. You misread my post. The "20%" statement referred to the fact that because so many 3/4 yr scholarship guys wash-out there has been plenty of slots opened up. My conclusions above are from my 4 yr. (soph. son) cadet and an active Col. friend who is a few years from retirement who got there via the SMP route.
    I cannot see how any candidate who receives a 3 yr scholarship would have any advantage over a 3yr scholarship guy who opted to go SMP instead IN AN ERA WHEN MOST SCHOLARSHIPS GIVEN ARE 3 YR. The point is if 80% of the scholarships given are 3 yr. then the SMP becomes the better way. Your statements seem to be geared to the premise that most scholarships are 4 yr. That is not the case.
     
  17. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    You're assuming that your son is going to have the option of contracting after his sophomore year. The scholarship offer on the table right now is a sure thing so long as he's able to meet the minimum standards (and he should be, or he probably wouldn't have gotten the offer).

    The environment your son is entering into is becoming more and more competitive each year. There are few spots for more and more applicants. There's no guarantee your son is going to excel in college. That may have been the case in high school, but college isn't hTh school. None of his high school achievements are going to matter if he takes the SMP route. I know plenty of former Cadets that didn't get offered contracts. They weren't bad people, they just weren't high enough in the pecking order in terms of performance.

    And its very easy to get sidetracked this way. I should know, it happened to me. I left college after a year to enlist thinking I'd be back and in a year I'd sign an SMP contract. Six months after finishing BCT/AIT I was in Iraq. I'm back now, five years, a wife and two children, and three years of active duty enlisted time later. I'm not saying it won't work out perfectly for your son but a lot of the things mentioned in this thread are risks a nineteen year old really isn't going to be able to grasp. The question your son needs to be asking himself is "Is it worth the risk of never becoming an officer for a few relatively minor financial benefits?"
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Especially since you are also looking at the USMA offering fewer apptmts and more of those candidates are now going to go to their plan B ROTC. That than slides many ROTC applicants sliding into their plan B SMP.

    Add in Sequestration and DoD budget cuts, and what was even 2 yrs ago is not going to be what will be 2 yrs from now. As mibtr stated the question becomes is the financial difference worth the chance, for many due to economic constraints in their family it is.
     
  19. infantry12mom

    infantry12mom Member

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    My DS was an SMP cadet. He hadn't been very motivated in high school re: GPA so he didn't explore scholarship as an option. DS completed BCT between freshman/soph yr & AIT before Jr year. The biggest downside from his standpoint was the inability to attend additional schools during summer break. Also, the drill weekends always seemed to fall the weekend before mid-terms & finals. Add this time onto FT classwork & ROTC time requirements, and there isn't any time left over for anything else.

    On a positive note, DS felt that he was pretty squared away after BCT & AIT & wouldn't have traded those experiences for anything. He was able to attend Airborne through the NG after AIT & did Air Assault through ROTC. However, he was VERY motivated during his ROTC time & graduated #1 on his schools OML.
     
  20. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Yes, the financial benefits of SMP are impressive - and often necessary to fund a college degree. The added experiences of BCT(AIT if desired) and the drills with shadowing current officers is an amazing opportunity. My DS is learning a lot of great information and skills.

    However, there are risks, not just contracts being available, but when and who gets them, DS's school is pretty transparent with an internal OML spelled out and posted each grading period. Not all batts and cadre follow this method. Its beyond his control.

    When will he attend BCT? This negotiation took weeks of emails and phone calls, the pull of a ROO who is deeply involved with SMP/NG recruiters and a little luck. While many cadets have been forced to miss a grading period(or 2) to attend BCT/AIT, DS was given the the ideal split option and took a less desirable MOS(88Mike - truck driver) in exchange. The MEPS person who finalized DS's NG contract couldn't believe a kid with a 96 ASVAB would ever accept 88M, but DS did what he needed to do. Missing a grading period doesn't sound like a big deal....not one of the 3 sophomore SMP contracts completed this fall was with a kid who missed a grading period, they are having to wait so they have enough hours to be academic sophomores, with a high enough GPA to meet standards. This could be beyond your DS's control.

    BCT is it own potential pit fall. DS left school on a Thursday, reported for BCT the following Monday - graduated BCT on a Thrusday and reported back to school that following Monday for the start of sophomore year. It was a tight fit and luckily worked out. Many kids at BCT did not graduate on time for a variety of health issues. Getting hurt/sick and having to recycle means not returning to school if the dates are tight. Worse, getting stuck in reception for too long has you starting late and same result, Once at Benning this summer, DS realized he had NO control over anything and did complete BCT and I agree, it benefits a lot of young people - including my DS, but the contract to commission is the goal and many of these variables put it at risk.

    These are just few examples of why if my DS had been offered even a 3yr scholarship that I would have encouraged him to accept it rather than pursue SMP. The risk to his contracting would not have been worth the benefits.

    Good luck while researching with your DS:thumb:
     

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