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  • West Point vs. ROTC

    LTC Ritchie, just read your sticky about West Point. looked into the details of USMA and was shocked to find out how much money the academy is taking from the cadets.

    Looked like virtually of their "salary" the first two years was going back to the academy - books, computers, dues, etc.

    So, let's compare USMA to ROTC.

    Assume it's a 3-year RA or Active First NG soldier.

    USMA-take virtually all of the salary first two years, no drills, no retirement points earned, maybe the cadet saves a little money last two years, but doubtful, more likely cadet spends dough on car insurance, payments, and gas.

    ROTC-with the new GI bill-essentially a "full-ride", plus E-5 housing stipend, covers all books, Soldier is SMP, so earns retirement points every month, + earns AD retirement points during AT in summer.

    during SMP contracted two or three years, Soldier still on "full-ride, plus housing", and earns ROTC stipend as well, adding $300-500 per month to total.

    example, soldier could earn an $1100 housing stipend(Dallas) from the new GI bill, 400 from ROTC, $300 from SMP drill pay, that's $1800 per month, in addition to the free tuition and fees.

    Is this correct?

    Obviously a strong saver could end up with a hefty bag of cash.

    Now, swing the pendulum the other way, USMA officer is looked at with higher regard if in RA 8-10 years later, correct? I have a friend who was ROTC, RA, he was "surplused" or whatever you call it in the 90s, after 12 years in. Went AR, finished his 20, ended up in Iraq.

    He claimed the USMA cadets had priority in everything.

    One other interesting possibility is that an AD soldier can attend the USMA Prep school, and still be considered on Active Duty, (gets full AD pay, not sure about allowances), so that soldier could finish up his 3 years of AD at Prep school and then make the final decision which way he wants to go.

    Which does bring up another question, if an RA or Active First soldier does well at USMAPS, and then declines USMA, does that person suffer anything, or can he go back to AD without any problems? Or maybe he should go NG at that point? And if he's okay, does he get any college credit for USMAPS?

    I guess the items I'm really not sure about are:

    1. the difference in earning points vs. not earning points.
    2. the difference in perception among AD folks, does commissioning source matter?
    3. The USMAPS credit or no credit question.

  • #2
    Re: West Point vs. ROTC

    Your whole discussion, while fascinating in the abstract, is a terrible basis upon which to make your career decisions. It's like trying to decide what car to buy by comparing the cost of replacement air filters. Whether you pursue ROTC or USMA is a far bigger decision than to be made on the basis of these ultimately marginal financial differences. After a twenty year career, it won't matter whether you scored a few more retirement points, particularly if you take a path for which you're ill-suited.

    I, for one, could never have handled a military academy when I was 18. I could do it now, but I was too emotionally fragile at the time. I had to take ROTC, and ease slowly into the Army.

    Compare the experiences between ROTC and USMA. Once you have decided on the destination, then figure out the best path.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: West Point vs. ROTC

      I agree an 18 year shouldn't care about retirement points. I am actually talking about the audience that the info is intended for, the AD or NG soldier, 20-21 years old. Those guys should probably care about retirement points. And I agree that at 18 I couldn't have handled West Point, but I was fine doing basic training. These 20-21 year old Soldiers are the ones who have the decisions to make, and I just thought it was an interesting set of choices.

      To me, the option that is most intriguing is the idea of a 2 year AD soldier to attend USMAPS and then decide which way to go.

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      • #4
        Re: West Point vs. ROTC

        Do USMA if you can, if not do something HOOAH like Virginia Military Institute!!! HOOAH!!!

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        • #5
          Re: West Point vs. ROTC

          I think you're skipping some facts:

          Free tution to a college that ranks in the top of US 50 colleges.

          Points?? Really?? By the time you're done with the minimum service obligation, you've far exceeded the points of doing 3 years on active duty and 2-3 years as a SMP.

          First choice in branching which OCS, ROTC doesn't get.

          "Back in the day", USMA officer were given RA commissions vs ROTC/OCS who had to apply at the CPT/MAJ point in thier career.

          Did I mention an education at a top 50 school?

          If I could've put up with the BS games for 4 years and had the grades, I would've jumped at the chance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: West Point vs. ROTC

            re: free tuition to a top 50 college. yes, they both give you free tuition. With the new GI bill, you've got what amounts to a "full-ride + E-5 housing allowance", at any state university.

            re: the points, I'm talking about someone who will retire, the only question is whether they will retire with an Active Duty retirement or a reserve retirement. If it's reserve, don't you think you would want 4 good years? (I'm talking about the 3.5 to four years spent in college). That would enable the ROTC reserve soldier to retire at age 38 vs. the USMA reserve soldier who couldn't retire until 42.
            Last edited by 49thadband; October 3rd, 2010, 02:45 PM.

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            • #7
              Re: West Point vs. ROTC

              Stonewall Jackson taught at VMI. Enough said.

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              • #8
                Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                Originally posted by 49thadband View Post
                re: free tuition to a top 50 college. yes, they both give you free tuition. With the new GI bill, you've got what amounts to a "full-ride + E-5 housing allowance", at any state university.

                Even with the new GI Bill and ROTC, you're not getting a free education at a top 50 school. Especially since most don't even have an ROTC programs anymore.

                re: the points, I'm talking about someone who will retire, the only question is whether they will retire with an Active Duty retirement or a reserve retirement. If it's reserve, don't you think you would want 4 good years? (I'm talking about the 3.5 to four years spent in college). That would enable the ROTC reserve soldier to retire at age 38 vs. the USMA reserve soldier who couldn't retire until 42.

                4 years at USMA plus the 5 year obligation puts USMA grads at 9 years commitment. Versus joing AC for 3-4 years plus another 4 years drilling/school is about 8 years. Not that much of an advantage in points or time commitment
                Keep in mind the ROTC route you have to add another year or so for OBC, plus the additional service obligation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                  maybe I'm not being clear. I'm taking an Active Duty or Active first soldier who has 3 years on AD, and comparing the two choices. My impression is that the 4 years of USMA do not count as "good years", because you're not on Active Duty and you're not drilling.

                  Are you saying the 4 years at USMA counts as 4 good years?

                  On this top 50 thing, I guess you guys could clear this up for me. If you will give me your source for top 50 schools then I can research the issue.

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                  • #10
                    Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                    49th, does it matter if USMA counts as 4 good years? Not when you can't draw a reserve retirement until you're 60. My point was you'll probably get more retirement points after meeting the minimum service obligation vs enlisted/ROTC route.

                    Goolge top 100 colleges. On most lists the service academies are at the top.

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                    • #11
                      Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                      I've always heard west point was #1.......don't be a fool, somebody said we were number two....

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                      • #12
                        Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                        Alright it took me long enough this time and almost didnt but...

                        Whenever West Point is brought up i bring up my brother and his wife who are both graduates of WP. I'm just about 36 years old and one of the best times of my life was going out to WP for a week during my brothers graduation. You just have to experience some time there and see what the legacy is all about. I've always been so proud of Bob and usually tell people about him when the school is brought up. He fulfilled his obligation then started doing the same job for the government but not military. He did very well for himself and is a great individual. It did him good!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                          not trying to say anything bad about the Point. Just pointing out options, and I tried, but the only ranking I could find was US News ranking of the Academy as the #16 Liberal Arts College, it was not listed in anybody's general colleges ranking.

                          Not a slam dunk decision imo. To me, it's at the very least a $20000 decision. Talking about giving up $20k to go to the Point. How do I get that number?

                          I'm not counting on saving any $ freshman year, count that as a draw, although a motivated person could easily save $1-3k

                          Start with AT following freshman year, $1k, then soph. SMP + new GI bill full-ride + E-5 housing allowance. Assume work as an RA, this is part-time, soldier puts in no more total hours per week than a WP cadet, therefore housing paid for, all he has left to pay for is meals, clothes, car, insurance, gas, maintenance, incidentals, take home pay per semester is approx. $6800, expenses about $3800 at the most.

                          $3k per semester savings X 6 semesters = 18k, which doesn't take into account raises in ROTC stipend. Then add in AT after Soph and Junior year, and you have the $20k. And that includes a car payment which you wouldn't necessarily have. You might have bought a car with cash during your AD time before you came off of AD.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                            365-40=325 (dont remember how many days off a year you get for summer and such but its no more then 40)
                            325 x 3 = 975
                            975 x 7 = 6825
                            Thats just the free meals for one year.
                            6825 x 4 = 27300
                            7 per meal? i think the going rate is more but will call it a draw.

                            and free uniforms for four years that you wear 24/7
                            you arent allowed to drive so forget insurance and gas

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: West Point vs. ROTC

                              There are advantages and disadvantages to both (USMA and ROTC). I think the short term economic impacts are probably the least important factor. A good education regardless of the institution will open doors for you. If you are serious about being a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army I would encourage you to apply to USMA, ROTC, and the best schools you can; to give you the best education you can get.

                              BTW cadets their first few years do have most of their money taken away BUT they have next to nothing on which to spend the money. You can't have a car until you are a senior and they have a car loan program. The money they take pays for books, computer, laundry, uniforms (both Cadet and Army), etc. It paid for my first set of Class A’s and Blues, as well as, my class ring.

                              Other benefits for USMA Cadets:
                              More transparency in branch and assignment selection
                              More summer time training opportunities
                              60 days of free leave upon graduation (you have to take it immediately or lose it)

                              ROTC has the advantages of more flexibility and freedom. You are more able to select your classes (I had my first elective (one) first semester of my junior year and I think 2 the next semester).

                              ROTC at a small unknown school vs USMA - USMA
                              ROTC at a Harvard or Yale vs. USMA – Tough call - likely Harvard or Yale


                              USMA ‘90, AC, NJ ARNG, USAR, VA ARNG, AGR

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