How to Transfer NROTC Scholarship


Feb 25, 2021
This past September, I made a post asking about the process of transferring schools and an NROTC scholarship. I remember at the time, I found that there was very little information about the process aside from the ROD, and there was really nobody to answer my questions. To be entirely honest, transfers between ROTC schools are so rare that the majority of active duty personnel at ROTC detachments don't have experience with the process (which isn't their fault or even a problem - it's such a rare circumstance). I'm not exactly certain that demand for this post exists, but I want to make this post in the event it helps someone like me down the line. Basically, I'm just going to try and answer all the questions I had at the beginning of the process.

Disclaimer: This post will be about my personal experience and outcome of the transfer process - I don't anticipate being able to capture all possible circumstances and conditions, I'm just trying to put out some more information on this topic that may help. None of my information should be taken as official or even the standard. If that's what you're looking for, refer to section 4-31 of the ROD.

Note: The outcome of my transfer was a full unit and 4-year scholarship transfer between a senior military academy and a 'regular' university, where I switched schools between the fall and spring semesters of my freshman year.

To start, I was positive that I wanted to transfer schools sometime between late September to early October of my freshman year. The first step I took was to inform my Lieutenant about my intentions and ask for his help. This is crucial because he would be the one to put together my initial package and actually begin the internal process for transferring (which I really don't have much information on, sorry). After being informed by the current CO that I would be allowed to attempt a transfer between semesters, I then applied to my choices of civilian universities using the transfer CommonApp. Make sure that you apply to schools that have an NROTC unit or are part of a consortium!

I put hours of time into my transfer applications because I didn't want to mess up this opportunity - you can't transfer to a school if you don't get into that school! After submitting the applications a week or two before November, I started checking off items outlined in 4-31 of the ROD:

a. I was in good standing at my unit and school. I did my absolute best to stay out of trouble and just put my head down and get through the semester. Admittedly, my grades were not great that semester, and even though I wasn't really in a great place mentally, it was a failure on my part. The process was already hard enough, but my 2.6 GPA (yikes) did not help my case. Learn from my mistake.
b. I was accepted by my first choice school just five days after their submission deadline. Still remember that day vividly and it remains a top three day of my entire life.
c. My written statement took the longest of all. My advice for this is to just be honest. I explained that I didn't feel like my current school was a good fit and that I would perform better and be happier as a midshipman and a student at my new school.
d. This could also be seen as a failure on my part because my new choice of school was significantly more than my current one. It's up to your choices of schools, but this was a major risk that I took.
e. No loss of credit in the transfer - I was only a first-semester freshman!
f. Both PNSs gave me favorable recommendations, but what was important for the recommendation was that I performed in my new unit (I'll get to this later).
g. The biggest risk of all - transferring between semesters. DO NOT DO THIS! At least if you can avoid it, because doing this significantly lowers the chances of your transfer request being approved.

I submitted my transcript (A), my acceptance (B), my statement (C), the tuition breakdown (D), and degree completion plans for both schools (E) to my unit as soon as they were completed. I moved out of my dorm when the fall semester ended and moved into my new school the next semester with my transfer still unresolved. This is where transferring between semesters becomes risky. My entire scholarship was up in the air, and I was on the hook for the spring semester until they approved the request (or didn't).

At my new school, I was rightfully and fairly dressed down for my 'bending' of the ROD and for taking such a massive risk. Again, do not transfer between semesters. The ROD is there for a reason - I just got incredibly lucky. As soon as I got there, I did my best to prove that I belonged there and would be an asset to the unit and the Navy. My PT score dramatically increased, I volunteered for a bunch of events, and I earned a 3.8 GPA that semester. My new Lieutenant and I put together a new version of my transfer request and combined with the earlier material, it was sent to NSTC in Pensacola FL along with the recommendation from my new CO following my performance at the new unit. This was February.

Less than two weeks ago, I was informed that my request was approved in full. This entailed reimbursement for my spring semester and a full transfer to my new unit along with my scholarship in place for the rest of my time at my new unit.

I could not have done this alone, and I have to credit the active duty staff at both units, my parents, and the transfer staff at my new school for helping me with this process. If there is anything I learned throughout this process, it is:

1. Communicate early and often with the people who can and will help you. It makes it easier for you and makes the transfer possible in the first place. Help them to help you.
2. Stack the odds in your favor. I failed at this. My grades weren't great, I wasn't exactly following the ROD, and my new school was much more in tuition. I did my best to push out and perform at my new unit, but looking back I could have significantly improved my chances of a successful transfer. Don't take more risks than necessary.
3. Be prepared for failure. I had community college on standby for months if the transfer didn't go through, and I was aware of the risks. It has been a stressful few months, but it was my own doing and my own choice.

While I certainly put in the work for this transfer and could not be more pleased with the outcome, I got lucky with the results and cannot guarantee that the outcome would be the same for a similar request. I am happy and successful at my new school, and I feel the risk was worth it, in the end, but be cautious. I do not claim to be an expert, I only wish to share this experience as I have not seen many stories about scholarship transfers on these forums.

I hope this has been helpful, even if it ends up helping one person like me years down the line. I'm not on the forums much so I can't say I'll be able to get back to you, but feel free to PM me with any further questions and I'll help as best I can. Good luck and be careful!
This is a great summary of how complicated the process can be for transferring scholarships between NROTC units....which is a little different than shifting from a senior military academy to NROTC, which sounds like your case.

To the untrained eye, a scholarship is a scholarship so it should be quick and easy. But the truth is that each program is budgeted for in different ways with different budget controls.

One of the added risks in your case is that if you had been turned down at the new unit, you just can't go back to what you had.

At the end of the day, as you noted, your outstanding performance at the new unit worked well in your favor. 👍