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OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

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  • OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

    Hello everyone,

    I'm interested in pursuing a Masters degree at an accredited university while simultaneously earning an opportunity to commission as an officer in the United States Army. I was informed that both the OCS and SMP paths are suitable options for me due to the fact that I have already obtained my undergraduate degree. After conducting some research, I began to favor the SMP route over that of the OCS as its perhaps more beneficial option for me at the moment.

    With that said, I am still a bit confused about the OCS benefit options (State/Accelerated/Federal OCS) in the National Guard as they pertain to a continuing education.

    The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) provides me the following benefits:

    1) Tuition: 100% Paid.
    2) Monthly Stipend: $400 Junior/$500 Senior year.
    3) Books and Fees: $450 Semester
    4) Drill Pay: 250$ per month
    5) MGIB "kicker": $350 for those who qualify

    I am in the process of enlisting with the hopes of landing an 11B MOS. This will allow me to attend BTC and AIT (OSUT) during this summer and return just in time to link up with the universities ROTC battallion as well as begin my graduate classes in the Fall (2012) semester.

    There is only one problem. I was informed that SMP slots are limited in each National Guard unit, if this is true, this makes me a bit nervous due to the fact that If I'm not able to secure an SMP slot, I will passing up an opportunity to attend LTC during the summer in hopes of landing a similar opportunity through the ROTC scholarship program.

    What would you suggest as being the most beneficial move in order to secure an SMP slot through my recruiter as well as the opportunity of to my graduate education?

  • #2
    Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

    In my opinion there is no "right" answer here. Francis Bacon is often attributed as saying, "Knowledge is power." Which in this sense, is an open invitation to you to gather as much good information as you can, and then make the decision that best fits your particular situation.

    Ask yourself: 1. Why am I pursuing enlistment or commission in the military/Army/National Guard (et al)?
    Purists would argue this is the most important question. Is your goal to obtain a commission in order to shoulder the responsibilities incorporated in leading soldiers, or are you just looking at a lucrative way to pay for college? Maybe it's somewhere in between.

    2. Do you see yourself (in your future Army carrer) part or full time?

    3. How old are you? (There are age requirements for enlistment/commissioning in general of course, but ROTC has stricter age requirements) Do you meet them?

    The 09S (OCS) option really only gives you one (1) major "advantage", which is commissioning sooner. If you enlisted and went to basic (9weeks), immediately started Accelerated OCS(59 days), you could ostensibly be commissioned by August of this year. (Basic March/April); Phase 0/1/2/3 of OCS between May - August.

    Of course, that's without any scheduling snaffu, slow Security Clearence approval or issues with Fed Rec blah blah blah. If timeline makes no difference, ROTC isn't a bad (and in my opinion easier and apparently more lucrative) option.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

      I went through exactly this and am currently in ROTC and Grad School....

      Couple of things. There are no unit slots for SMP, per se. Once you contract as an 09R, they can slot you in any unit you want. What is limited however are 09R contracts/ROTC contracts in general. FY12 is full and FY13 is danger close to being full. So, competition for those is pretty stiff and you have to bring your serious "A" game to be competative and honestly, you are already way behind the power curve for FY12.

      One course would be doing what I am doing - a non-scholarship contracted cadet. You get the 09R slot, ROTC stipend and drill pay but the NG foots the bill instead of Uncle Sam. On top of it, you can choose to compete for Active Duty if you want, you are not bound to the NG as you would be with a GRFD scholarship. If you do stay NG, finding a branch slot is much easier since you are not a part of the silly OML process. I got one of 2 MI slots in my state whereas all the other people got... um.. not MI. The only side thing though is you have to go to BCT and be MOSq'd (normally - there are exceptions) for this route.

      OCS is good too, but you are subject to OML and needs of th NG. So, your branching may go south on you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

        Originally posted by jmclaughlin1701 View Post
        OCS is good too, but you are subject to OML and needs of th NG. So, your branching may go south on you.
        Perhaps in TX. But states usually have more open LT slots than they have candidates/cadets coming in per year so it's not a problem.

        But I really see no benefit in OCS. If you went traditional OCS, you would actually OCS a couple months later than you would with ROTC. If you did accelerated or federal, you push your education pack a semester. Then once you commission, there will be an expectation that you attend BOLC as soon as possible, pushing you back another semester.

        I also believe that you'll learn more from ROTC because of the amount of interaction you have and the amount of time to really learn the subjects. This, coming from an accelerated OCS guy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

          +1

          Those are some of the exact reasons I dropped OCS in favor of ROTC. I am commissioning only a few months behind my Class 54 bretheren, but looking at how the cards fell, I will get back from MIBOLC and be good to go before 80% of them even go to BOLC. On top of that, I am earning a Master of Science degree w/o having to spend a dime of my own scratch. That alone makes it worth it for me to go this route.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

            Originally posted by Rhadamanthus View Post
            Perhaps in TX. But states usually have more open LT slots than they have candidates/cadets coming in per year so it's not a problem.

            But I really see no benefit in OCS. If you went traditional OCS, you would actually OCS a couple months later than you would with ROTC. If you did accelerated or federal, you push your education pack a semester. Then once you commission, there will be an expectation that you attend BOLC as soon as possible, pushing you back another semester.

            I also believe that you'll learn more from ROTC because of the amount of interaction you have and the amount of time to really learn the subjects. This, coming from an accelerated OCS guy.
            Yes sir, Texas is a little different. A lot of dedicated GRFD cadets and OCS LTs did not get their first choice this FY, unless they wanted INF or ARMOR. And then those slots usually require an interview with the gaining unit to make sure they are a good fit...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

              Couple of things. There are no unit slots for SMP, per se. Once you contract as an 09R, they can slot you in any unit you want. What is limited however are 09R contracts/ROTC contracts in general. FY12 is full and FY13 is danger close to being full. So, competition for those is pretty stiff and you have to bring your serious "A" game to be competative and honestly, you are already way behind the power curve for FY12.

              One course would be doing what I am doing - a non-scholarship contracted cadet. You get the 09R slot, ROTC stipend and drill pay but the NG foots the bill instead of Uncle Sam. On top of it, you can choose to compete for Active Duty if you want, you are not bound to the NG as you would be with a GRFD scholarship. If you do stay NG, finding a branch slot is much easier since you are not a part of the silly OML process. I got one of 2 MI slots in my state whereas all the other people got... um.. not MI. The only side thing though is you have to go to BCT and be MOSq'd (normally - there are exceptions) for this route.
              Thank you everyone, that was some very helpful insight. I have a couple of lingering questions if you don't mind:

              So how exactly does the 09R contract/ROTC contracts (I'm guessing another name for it is the GRFD scholarship?) differ from that of a Non-scholarship contracted cadet as far as the overall benefits are concerned?

              Would I still be able to attend BCT and AIT (OSUT), as an 11B persay, in order to qualify for this program?

              Does the GRFD scholarship program excentially bind you to the National Guard or are you still able to compete for a slot in active duty?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: OCS vs. SMP during Graduate School

                09R - this is the MOS designation for an ROTC cadet. Doesn't matter if you are scholarship, non-scholarship, etc. Once you contract, this is what you are reclassed as. Whether or not you SMP, this is how the Army sees you.

                ROTC contracts - Everyone who gets a contract is automatically put into the Reserves and when you commission, it is a Reserve commission. The OML is what determines who gets the Active Duty slots. You have to be a contracted cadet in order to take the MSIII and MSIV courses.

                Now, if you decide you want to, you can also go SMP. This puts you into a drilling status with a NG or USAR unit in your area. You'll get paid as an E5 and do some LT duties during drill. Both scholarship and non-scholarship cadets can do this.

                Scholarship types - you got your basic ROTC scholarship which is funded by Uncle Sam. Tuition, books, room, etc. Taking this puts you in the running (OML'wise) for Active Duty.

                Pros - You can go Active.
                Cons - compete with 5000 other cadets for Branch, duty station, etc.

                Then you have GRFD. This essentially puts you in the NG or USAR and you are NOT in the running for Active Duty.

                Pros - you get to choose your Branch and Unit (from whats available in your state or the state you are going to). OML is a non-issue. You get to laugh at the other cadets who are stressing over Active Duty and getthing thier 1st choice. And then the ones who were planning on Active are now SOL b/c they are forced into the NG/USAR, have no job prospects and get the leftovers for LT spots (Chemical Corps anyone??)
                Cons - Limited to state slots. May have to interview/grovel for a high speed slot like AV or MI. You are going to be a Reserve Forces Officer (Which I like, so its not really a "con"... just saying).

                If you are deadset on not being bound to the NG/USAR with a GRFD, then you'll have to go to OSUT for the NG in order to qualify for "most" states TA/college money to pay for your school and be a non-scholarship cadet.

                Otherwise, you are going to have to compete with everyone else for a basic ROTC scholarship and work out what you want to be. For the basic scholarship, OSUT/BCT/AIT is not required.

                If you want to go NG, then look into a GRFD. Makes your life a whole lot easier with the money, etc for school and you'll have far more control over what you want to do.

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