Air Force founds ROTC scholarship for all eligible college upperclassmen, reduces aid for high school grads
Stars and Stripes January 31, 2023
A new Air Force ROTC scholarship will award up to $18,000 annually to all third- and fourth-year cadets selected for commissioning at the time of their college graduation, according to the service.
The Brig. Gen. Charles A. McGee Leadership Award, named after one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, is aimed at helping would-be officers finish their education.
The award “is one way we can support those who demonstrate talent and desire to serve on their path,” Gen. CQ Brown Jr., the Air Force chief of staff, said last week at a ceremony at the University of Maryland to introduce the scholarship with McGee’s relatives. McGee died a year ago at the age of 102.
It provides up to $18,000 per year for tuition or $10,000 annually in housing assistance. All cadets who have successfully completed field training and entered the Professional Officer Course at the start of their junior year and who are not already receiving ROTC scholarship money are eligible.
For the first time, all qualified cadets will be offered a scholarship at some point in their college career under the new program, the Air Force said.
As a result, there will be less scholarship funding for high school seniors seeking a four-year Air Force ROTC college scholarship. Fewer than 500 of the awards are likely to be offered in the 2022-2023 application cycle, according to Military Scholarship Consulting, a team of retired and former military officers that help students navigate the ROTC scholarship process.
That compares to 1,000 last year and more than 2,000 the year before, the company says on its website.
The Air Force has said it’s “rebalancing” its ROTC scholarship offerings rather than adding more money to the program, according to an Air and Space Forces magazine report published Monday.
Historically, about 40% of Air Force ROTC cadets received scholarships, and most were awarded to high school seniors, according to the service.
The remainder generally were given to college freshmen and sophomore cadets. But the Air Force did not always see a return on its investment with younger cadets on scholarship.
Cadets who receive a scholarship out of high school can drop out of the ROTC program after their freshman year without having to pay the money back. Those who leave after their sophomore year are not required to join the Air Force.
Cadets typically incur a service obligation during the last two years of a four-year ROTC program.
The new scholarship is not tied to any academic majors but may be used only for undergraduate studies, according to the Air Force. Cadets must commission by age 31 to be eligible for it.