Will ROTC Decrease Merit Aid?

Adyer37

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To make this short and simple, I will give some context to my situation.

Currently, I am a senior in high school (different schedule with online school), who will be applying to colleges later this year. I am not 100% sure that I want to join the army, but I also do not want a lot of debt, which is why I am thinking about applying to ROTC to see if I can get a scholarship.

My problem however, comes in the form of financial aid from colleges. The plan at the moment, is for me to apply for an ROTC scholarship, see if I can win one, and then use it as a backup in case I do not get as much aid as I want from colleges. My question therefore is, in the event that I were to win an ROTC scholarship, but refuse to take it, would colleges still offer me the same amount of aid had I never applied ROTC in the first place? The concern I have, is that if I apply ROTC, but decide not to accept the scholarship, then I will not have as much merit aid to fall back on as they will have assumed I would have taken the scholarship.

So, to sum this up, does applying ROTC reduce the amount of aid a student could receive? What happens to students who win a scholarship, but decide not to take it? Will they get less merit/need based aid even though they rejected the scholarship?

Please let me know if this makes any sense, or if you need me to elaborate further.

Thank you!
 

18Hopeful

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My DS was awarded an NROTC scholarship for the upcoming school year. He applied to several colleges prior to knowing he received the NROTC one. He received scholarships to all those he applied in differing amounts and some schools were not NROTC colleges. Ultimately, he decided to attend a university which allowed him to use his merit scholarship towards room and board because his national scholarship will pay tuition and mandatory fees as well as book stipend. Some universities allow the merit scholarships to be used this way and others will not. Some colleges will increase provide additional scholarships for ROTC winners. I have not heard where a school will reduce scholarships because ROTC. I cannot speak for grant money through FAFSA since we don't qualify.
 

Torero_dad

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  • Applying to ROTC as a form of financial aid is a terrible idea.
    • Its best understood as an apprenticeship or extended job interview rather than a scholarship.
  • If you are competitive for ROTC, you will be competitive for regular aid. It's about picking a school that finds you attractive and you like.
  • You will not be competitive with the selection boards without a good story about why you are interested. Its what all the essays and interviews cover. The readers will see through your statements if insincere.
  • You will have a service obligation after your first year, day one of Sophomore year. It's for a long time, doing things you probably won't like if you're not fired up to serve.
  • Regular merit and need aid will not have those obligations. Much of it will be covering all four years.
  • You are far better served analyzing schools, their aid offers, and making a choice.

DS was admitted to multiple schools. Several did not offer anything more than the privilege of attending. A couple provided merit and need aid. He selected a school where his package was about the same as an ROTC scholarship. But he's is really interested in service so he's in the program as a programer.
 

unkown1961

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It varies by school. But we only saw it happen at one out of a couple of dozen schools between my kids.

That being said, colleges will give you your merit awards and require you to submit any outside merit scholarship awards (ROTC, Eagle Scout, Coca Cola, etc.). Then Financial Aid will determine if they'll reduce your merit award from the school. So once you see your college merit award you can decide if you need the additional monies from ROTC. You can also consider if there are any major requirements for ROTC that may not appeal to you.
 

Adyer37

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  • Applying to ROTC as a form of financial aid is a terrible idea.
    • Its best understood as an apprenticeship or extended job interview rather than a scholarship.
  • If you are competitive for ROTC, you will be competitive for regular aid. It's about picking a school that finds you attractive and you like.
  • You will not be competitive with the selection boards without a good story about why you are interested. Its what all the essays and interviews cover. The readers will see through your statements if insincere.
  • You will have a service obligation after your first year, day one of Sophomore year. It's for a long time, doing things you probably won't like if you're not fired up to serve.
  • Regular merit and need aid will not have those obligations. Much of it will be covering all four years.
  • You are far better served analyzing schools, their aid offers, and making a choice.

DS was admitted to multiple schools. Several did not offer anything more than the privilege of attending. A couple provided merit and need aid. He selected a school where his package was about the same as an ROTC scholarship. But he's is really interested in service so he's in the program as a programer.

This makes sense, thanks for the comment! I think, more than anything, it's the debt that scares me, so I am willing to try anything to not be burdened by it. The whole reason I am looking at ROTC is because my dad did it in college, and I am currently living overseas as a military dependent. Honestly, I have a pretty unique story, so I do not think I will have a hard time winning a scholarship, but like you said, if I am competitive for ROTC, I will be competitive for colleges. The reason I am doubting ROTC however, is that I want to become a social psychologist, which will require me to attend graduate school. Even though having a salary straight out of college would be great along with the benefits, I am concerned that if I accept an ROTC scholarship it may delay me from my carrier goals/graduate school.

One last question I might ask you would be, what do you think of the idea of holding off on ROTC, applying to colleges to see their offers, going to college, and then competing on the campus level in first year if I think it’s for me?
 

Adyer37

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It varies by school. But we only saw it happen at one out of a couple of dozen schools between my kids.

That being said, colleges will give you your merit awards and require you to submit any outside merit scholarship awards (ROTC, Eagle Scout, Coca Cola, etc.). Then Financial Aid will determine if they'll reduce your merit award from the school. So once you see your college merit award you can decide if you need the additional monies from ROTC. You can also consider if there are any major requirements for ROTC that may not appeal to you.

Makes sense, but aren’t you required to list the colleges you want ROTC to go to? If this is true, doesn’t this alert colleges that you are anticipating an ROTC scholarship to their college, or can they not do anything in reducing aid until you confirm that you will indeed accept the scholarship?
 

justdoit19

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Maybe I’m missing something, but merit awards from individual schools are separate from ROTC awards. IOW’s, they won’t know you are apply to ROTC. So why would the awards be affected by ROTC? So you can apply to both and see where you fall and then decide.

My advice is that what you think your life plans are from the viewpoint of your 18 yr old self, are most likely not the path your future self will end up on.

Mom if 4, advisor to many other non-bio exchange students. Not a single person is where they thought they would be as an 18yr old high school student.

Lastly, do you have a good college counselor that can help advise you? about scholarships available? Our school does a fabricator job. Others don’t. But that may be a resource for you. Also communicating with your college admissions team.
 

justdoit19

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Makes sense, but aren’t you required to list the colleges you want ROTC to go to? If this is true, doesn’t this alert colleges that you are anticipating an ROTC scholarship to their college, or can they not do anything in reducing aid until you confirm that you will indeed accept the scholarship?

The application process to the school is independent of the ROTC application. They don’t “talk” to each other. In fact, you are on your own to gain admission to your selected schools.

As an example, when my son was headed to NROTC, and his NROTC financial piece wasn’t showing on his financial award letter from the school, he inquired. And was embarrassed when he was short and sweetly told by NRTOC that he didn’t have the scholarship activated until AFTER he passed NSI. And at that point, NROTC would notify his school. The point, is that the school had no knowledge of his NROTC scholarship. His awards from the school were completely independent of the NROTC award.
 

Adyer37

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The application process to the school is independent of the ROTC application. They don’t “talk” to each other. In fact, you are on your own to gain admission to your selected schools.

As an example, when my son was headed to NROTC, and his NROTC financial piece wasn’t showing on his financial award letter from the school, he inquired. And was embarrassed when he was short and sweetly told by NRTOC that he didn’t have the scholarship activated until AFTER he passed NSI. And at that point, NROTC would notify his school. The point, is that the school had no knowledge of his NROTC scholarship. His awards from the school were completely independent of the NROTC award.

Yes, so I just confirmed with one of my future colleges, that you are indeed correct! The ROTC is separate from financial aid they may offer, and the two do not intermingle. In essence, I am in the clear to apply for ROTC as well as merit aid, and when the time comes, I can have the choice to choose which one I will use based on my own decisions. Your two replies were awesome, and I greatly appreciate your input! Thank you!
 

AJC

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So why would the awards be affected by ROTC?
Most merit awards contain fine print regarding other scholarships and their impact.
Say you receive 50% scholarship for tuition and fees from the school.
Then you receive a ROTC scholarship for 100% tuition and fees. The school will know (they get paid directly by Cadet Command).
They will keep the 50% they were going to apply to your bill.
 

Adyer37

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Most merit awards contain fine print regarding other scholarships and their impact.
Say you receive 50% scholarship for tuition and fees from the school.
Then you receive a ROTC scholarship for 100% tuition and fees. The school will know (they get paid directly by Cadet Command).
They will keep the 50% they were going to apply to your bill.

Does this still apply in the event that you receive a scholarship, but do not accept it? Makes sense if you decide you are going to take the money, but how about in the event that you turn down ROTC?
 

AJC

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Not sure you can accept a place in an ROTC program without taking the money.
I know you can be offered a contract with no scholarship.
I have never heard of anyone not taking the money offered ( and still enrolling in the program).
Anyone?
 

Torero_dad

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That's fine. I'm not clear which branch, but they all offer the NROTC version of sideload (a 3/2 year scholarship).

But again, it is not a question of "if" ROTC will affect your plans for graduate school and civilian career. So plan accordingly.
 

Adyer37

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Not sure you can accept a place in an ROTC program without taking the money.
I know you can be offered a contract with no scholarship.
I have never heard of anyone not taking the money offered ( and still enrolling in the program).
Anyone?

Yeah in my case, I would either accept the scholarship and join the program, or not do it whatsoever. And yes, you can still be in ROTC without taking the money, but like I said, that is not my plan.
 

Torero_dad

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I think he/she means being a college programmer, a non-scholarship participant. This is a thing at least in the Navy and Corps
 

nrotcmid23

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I know someone who turned down an AROTC scholarship but still participates in AROTC and intends to commission (I believe he is considered to be "contracted" although this might be wrong, Army is not my forte). He both turned down a 4 year, and purposely didn't apply for a 3 or 2 year.

He was offered an incredible financial aid deal, quite literally 100% of all his costs are paid for (tuition, room, board, books, etc.). In speaking with the financial aid office, if he had taken the scholarship, it would have resulted in him having to pay some costs. I don't know why it worked like that, but even paying small costs were not a financial possibility, hence him turning down the scholarship and taking the financial aid.

The important takeaway from his experience is to talk with the school and the unit early and often. All schools have offices and individuals who deal with financial/merit aid. You can go to them with you questions and they'll answer them better than anyone on this board can. It would not surprise me if different schools have different answers, some may allow you to stack aid, some may not. The only way to find out is to ask.
 

kinnem

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I am concerned that if I accept an ROTC scholarship it may delay me from my carrier goals/graduate school.

1. It will definitely delay your career goals, there is no MAY about it. What you should ask yourself is does it bring something to the table to help achieve your career goals after your service obligation is complete. If it does then by all means apply. If it doesn't then I suggest you move on at some point in this process (not necessarily now).

2. You don't need to worry about how accepting or rejecting a ROTC scholarship will affect you at this point in time. They won't know you've received a ROTC scholarship until the unit notifies them in the summer, or you notify them yourself earlier. That's when you'll need to assess the impacts on financial aid the college has offered, if any, not before.
 
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kinnem

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@Adyer37 You are actually currently in a position of trying to make a decision based on absolutely no data. You have no aid offers in hand. Trying to make important hypothetical decisions without any data is not a wise move. Apply for the scholarship and other financial aid and see where you end up.
 

unkown1961

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Makes sense, but aren’t you required to list the colleges you want ROTC to go to? If this is true, doesn’t this alert colleges that you are anticipating an ROTC scholarship to their college, or can they not do anything in reducing aid until you confirm that you will indeed accept the scholarship?
Admissions at colleges have no knowledge of your ROTC application process. They are two separate processes.
 

goirish1

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Not to confuse merit based scholarships with financial aid or grants...also consider if the school you are applying to has high caliber academics, there may not be as many academic scholarships as you anticipate as most accepted students would be extremely competitive...
To my experience, ROTC did not submit list of scholarship recipients to financial aid office until after financial aid awards were calculated. Without knowledge of the ROTC scholarship, my son was in line for a decent grant. Once the FAO was notified of ROTC scholarship, award was recalculated and grant eliminated so all he received was ROTC scholarship to cover tuition. He used small merit scholarships to cover room and board year 1...after that room and board was on us as most schools will not give you money over your EFC (expected family contribution), unless you select a school that purposefully will cover room and board for ROTC scholarship recipients.
I will just add that was year 1 DS 1 back in 2013. He was never offered any additional grants after that year bcuz of ROTC scholarship and EFC. DS2 is a senior this year. Also ROTC scholarship and same...used smaller merit scholarships for room and board year 1 and that was it bcuz of EFC.
 
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