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ROTC 4-Year Scholarship vs. SMP

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  • ROTC 4-Year Scholarship vs. SMP

    Hello,

    I am the proud father of 2 young men that have a great desire to serve their country. They are one grade apart and have both been awarded (and accepted) 4-year Army ROTC Scholarships. The oldest is currently half way through his college freshman year (already contracted) and the younger is finishing up his high school senior year and will join his brother next school year.

    I have been doing some research on whether the SMP option would be a better path for them. I am overwhelmed with all the information and acronyms I have been finding on the internet. I was hoping to get some of this explained in layman's terms….

    As their father, my biggest concern is that they focus on their grades and earn their degrees without any chance of deployment or any unnecessary distraction. I don't know if I would considered a weekend a month an unnecessary distraction, but at first I did.

    Also, my orignal understanding was that they had to complete Basic and AIT in order to get all the benefits of the SMP program. Now, I understand that once they contract there is a way they can change to the SMP option without going to Basic or AIT??

    As I research this, I have some questions...

    1) How does switching from a 4-Year Scholarship to the SMP option work? I thought I read that they would get all the same benefits of any other SMP cadet, with the exception of the GI Bill?? Does not going to Basic, AIT and IET really affect them? (I am not even sure what IET is)

    2) What are the different SMP scholarships (GRFD, DED NG)? Do they have to go Army Reserve or National Guard once they graduate if they go SMP or can they still go Active Army?

    3) Does this change their chances of doing any of the summer training - CULP or in particular the Air Assault, Airborne training while in ROTC? (That is a big deal to them)

    4) What are the benefits of the SMP option? From my understanding, it is the higher pay once commissioned (due to the time being served while in SMP) and the service time earned toward retirement. I understand that they also get additional training because of their weekend drills and 2 weeks per year. Are there any others?

    5) What are the disadvantages of the SMP? Why would someone give up a 4-year scholarship?


    I hate to get 2-3 years into this and realize that there was a better option and neither one of them considered it. I do plan on talking to their ROTC Counselor but right now I am on fact finding mission to learn as much as I can prior to that.


    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by ROTC_DAD; January 5th, 2014, 05:40 PM.

  • #2
    There are many officers on this website who received their commissions from ROTC and they should chime in sometime in the near future. IET is Initial entry training and that is what BCT and AIT both comprise of. Here is another link so you can field some questions there. http://forums.military.com/eve/forum...m/f/2791910496

    Comment


    • #3
      You have excellent questions, although I have questions for your sons first: what is most important to you? where are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals? what do you want to do after college? Until I know where they want to go, I can't tell them the best way to get there.

      Comment


      • #4
        They have slightly different goals.

        The oldest is planning on a career in the Army. He wants to branch Infantry or possibly Combat Engineer. He is studying Mechanical Engineering and is on a five year plan to get through college due to the Engineering classes. He also mentioned he wants to be Ranger qualified. Personally, I easily see him staying in the Army for 25+ years. He loves the structure and discipline the Army provides and is highly motivated to be a leader. He will definitely go Active Duty.

        The younger one is planning on a Chemistry degree and possibly a Physics minor (along with his minor in Military Science of course). He is thinking Infantry as well, but I can see him going into the Chemical Corp. He would like to obtain a Masters in Chemistry and ultimately get his PHD. It would be great if he could get the higher level education paid for while serving. I could see him taking the National Guard or Army Reserve route, but no guarantee. That will probably depend on how well the Chemical Corp fits into his idea of what he would like to do with his Chemistry degree.

        I should also mention that they both have 2 years under their belts in the JROTC program. The older was Battalion Commander last year and his younger brother is S3 this year. I understand that this would move them to an E3 rank instead of an E1 as an enlisted soldier, but perhaps their ROTC Cadet status makes that a mute point??

        They are both very physical and love that part of their training. They were both JROTC Raiders and the older made the ROTC "A" Ranger team as a freshman. The Air Assault, Airborne and Sapper training are definitely something they both want to do.

        If there is anything in particular you would like to know please let me know. I appreciate all the help!

        Thanks
        Last edited by ROTC_DAD; January 6th, 2014, 01:34 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          A four-year scholarship recipient may not participate in SMP. They can, however, request to convert their scholarship to a Dedicated National Guard scholarship at the two- or three-year mark. This version of the scholarship mandates both SMP service and eight years drilling in the National Guard after graduation. It is possible for a four-year awardee to serve in the National Guard upon commissioning, although that depends on the needs of the service. In 1991 we had four-year awardees who were able to walk away free from any service obligation whatsoever, and in 2005 we had the active component sucking up every cadet with a pulse.

          Given what you've described, I recommend that they keep their scholarships, and re-evaluate their situations and plans a year from now, and then again a year after that. If one decides to commit to National Guard service after graduation, then I strongly recommend converting the scholarship to a DedARNG version. That way, he'll be legally forced to do what he wants to do anyway, as well as gain some additional experience prior to commissioning.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the reply. I am still unclear on so much of this...

            I think the biggest thing they give up by using their scholarship vs going SMP is the service time, both for pay and retirement.

            Are there any programs out there that allow them to go SMP and still go Active Duty or are all the SMP programs limited to NG or AR?

            Comment


            • #7
              They could forgo their scholarships altogether, and participate in SMP while in college, then request active duty at commissioning.

              These incentives are designed to have some level of mutual-exclusivity. A few years ago, we had many cadets who were smart enough to do everything right, and end up getting paid $1000 per month to go to college for free. Those days are over, we're better at spreading the wealth.

              From a financial standpoint, the four-year scholarship is the best deal. Perhaps current finances aren't their most important consideration. That's why I need to know what an applicant's priorities are, in order to give the best recommendation.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by matthew.ritchie View Post
                They could forgo their scholarships altogether, and participate in SMP while in college, then request active duty at commissioning.

                These incentives are designed to have some level of mutual-exclusivity. A few years ago, we had many cadets who were smart enough to do everything right, and end up getting paid $1000 per month to go to college for free. Those days are over, we're better at spreading the wealth.

                From a financial standpoint, the four-year scholarship is the best deal. Perhaps current finances aren't their most important consideration. That's why I need to know what an applicant's priorities are, in order to give the best recommendation.

                I was one of those... I contracted with my ROTC program and went GRFD... Getting paid GI Bill and kicker, plus drill pay coming in at about $1,100.. Then still getting my tuition paid for and such. So much has changed.

                As for the OP question, I think the best bet is what LTC Ritchie just said; Patricipate in SMP and see what they want come graduation. It gives them a taste of the Guard/Reserves, and still pays for the bulk of school. However it's really all up to them...
                FWIW, I was doing 2 weekends a month (one for ROTC and one for Drill) and I didn't find it too much of a distraction. If they have their priorities in order and can buckle down, they will do just fine.

                Comment


                • Jersey Dirtbag
                  Jersey Dirtbag commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I know nothing about the mutual exclusivity of the various programs being compared, but I can say this with certainty. In my experience, SMP is a waste of time and a distraction from school. No one knows what to "do" with cadets who are assigned to line companies, and ROTC often conflicts with the NG obligation. The "taste" of the NG your son will get is not likely to be a good one, in my opinion.

                  I have always looked at SMP as being more appropriate for prior-enlisted soldiers, but I never went through ROTC so take my comments with a fistful of salt. Good luck.

              • #9
                Some units know what to do with SMP cadets, some do not. As a former SMP myself, I developed a number of tasks/duties that a cadet could reasonably do that would benefit the unit as well as the cadet. Note that some of the duties are unofficial, inasmuch as some duties require a specific minimum rank to complete officially, although the cadet can do the leg work.

                1. Serve as commander's driver. That frees a regular Soldier to do his MOS, and keeps the cadet close to an officer for mentoring and observation of the officer's duties.
                2. Conduct vehicle inspections.
                3. Conduct sensitive item inventories.
                4. Perform the duties of a convoy commander under the supervision of the actual convoy commander.
                5. Conduct remedial PT for the APFT failures.
                6. Serve as unit POC for educational benefits.
                7. Serve as unit public affairs specialist, submitting hometown news releases, developing a units webpage, and taking photos of events.
                8. Serving as a recorder on boards and other official proceedings.
                9. Conduct arms rooms inspections.
                10. Serve as RSP instructor.
                11. Conduct required annual briefings.

                Comment


                • #10
                  The units may not know what to do with the SMP Cadets, however I believe it is up to the Cadet to be involved as well. The Cadet is training to be an officer. Part of that is stepping up and making an effort to be involved. I spoke with the unit and found the officer I wanted to shadow, talked to him, and he was willing to let me fully shadow him. I attended pre-drill planning meetins, all meetings during drill, and even had some input on platoon decisions. I worked with them to do Sensitive item inventories, ran PT and APFTs, and taught classes. Granted, YES I was prior service and knew some of these thigns, but the whole point of the program is to grown and learn WHILE serving.

                  @Jersey Dirtbag, I would be interested to know who you viewed when having your experiences. I'm curious to know what they did to help their cause, or if they just sat back and got paid to get a "taste." lol

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I appreciate the responses but I feel as if we got off topic here…I still really haven't got the answers to my questions, just a statement to keep their scholarships and reevaluate later, without a good explanation of why.

                    I would still like to know:

                    Can a cadet do SMP and then go active duty?

                    Does going SMP make it harder (or even possible) to do summer training - i.e. Airborne, Air Assault, etc

                    Why would a Cadet give up a 4-year scholarship? From my continuing research, I think the biggest thing they loose by not going SMP is the in time service that affects their pay and retirement service years. Is there anyway around that and still attend ROTC as a Scholarship winner? I am guessing there is not.

                    Thanks again in advance

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      "Can a cadet do SMP and then go active duty?"
                      Yes. What he can't do is serve as an SMP cadet while on a traditional ROTC scholarship, or go active duty after taking a Dedicated ARNG ROTC scholarship (which requires SMP service in college).

                      "Does going SMP make it harder (or even possible) to do summer training - i.e. Airborne, Air Assault, etc"
                      Perhaps, because of conflict with Annual Training, although I would imagine a unit commander would count that training as in-lieu-of training for AT. It is theoretically possible, although highly unlikely, that the cadet's ARNG unit could sponsor him for training.

                      "Why would a Cadet give up a 4-year scholarship? From my continuing research, I think the biggest thing they loose by not going SMP is the in time service that affects their pay and retirement service years. Is there anyway around that and still attend ROTC as a Scholarship winner? I am guessing there is not."
                      So ideally they want to serve as an SMP while on an ROTC scholarship and then serve in the active component after commissioning. Can't have all three, sorry. Pick any two. The mutual exclusion is done by design, to avoid over-incentivizing a few cadets at the expense of others.

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