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Air Force, Army, Navy ROTC Scholarships And Recoupment

(applies to USMA (West Point), the Coast Guard, Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy)

For many students, receiving a scholarship from ROTC is the deciding factor that allows them to attend college. The largest ROTC Scholarships can pay for a student’s full college tuition and authorized fees. Recently, the Air Force ROTC cut nearly 1,000 cadets from their program, leaving them without scholarships, but after pressure from students, parents, and officers, agreed to reinstate about 400 cadets, 130 of which regained their scholarships.

For those concerned with recoupment of the tuition, check with the Commandant in an email to confirm, but the Government should not be collecting for payments that went to colleges when it was the ROTC program that reneged on the deal and not performing cadets.

In late April, the Air Force ROTC rejected 1,000 second-year cadets from continuing through the ROTC program, nearly half of all ROTC cadets. Typically, the Air Force ROTC rejects about 25 percent of second-year cadets from completing the program due to failure to meet fitness, academic, and leadership standards, but the pandemic forced the Air Force to make cuts to the program. As a result, hundreds of qualified students who relied on scholarships from the Air Force ROTC were left without financial support. As Alex Horton from The Washington Post reported, many of these students had excellent grades and leadership skills required by the Air Force ROTC. For example, one student studying mechanical engineering had flawless grades and a spot on the rowing team. Even she, however, was cut from the Air Force ROTC program and lost her scholarship.

In response to these cuts, congressional representatives, retired officers, parents, and students pressed the Air Force to reexamine their decision in closed-door meetings. On May 6, 2021, the Air Force agreed to reinstate 400 cadets. Of those 400 cadets, about 130 won back scholarships.

The Air Force’s decision shook many cadets’ faith in the military, even those who were eventually invited back. As one student explained, “until now, I had very full trust in the Air Force…It wasn’t until this past month that I realized that’s not always how it’s going to be.”

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