What is an Air Force ROTC Scholarship?

The Air Force ROTC scholarship pays all or most of the costs of tuition, books, room and board for many of the students in American colleges and universities who participate in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) of the United States. Scholarships are offered for four, three, or two years to students majoring in any subject deemed necessary to Air Force requirements. There are a number of different types of scholarships offered to high school seniors, students already in college, and to Air Force enlisted personnel who want to attend college and earn a commission.

Air Force enlisted personnel

The American military draws the overwhelming majority of its officer corps from the nation’s civilian colleges and universities, offering specialized military training to students, concurrent with the courses they’re taking in pursuit of their degrees. Upon graduation, they are commissioned as officers – second lieutenants in the Army, Air Force or Marines, or Ensigns in the Navy. The Air Force ROTC scholarship program has various scholarships designed for the different circumstances of the students or enlisted personnel applying for them.

Air Force ROTC scholarships may be used to pay the costs of higher education at any of over 1000 colleges and universities nationwide. One of the things that sets the Air Force ROTC scholarship program apart from the programs offered by the other services is that the Air Force offers a scholarship contingent upon the applicant pursuing a particular major field of study, chosen by the Air Force from a list of three submitted by the candidate.

Air Force ROTC scholarship

High school students who want to compete for an Air Force ROTC scholarship are encouraged to apply early in their senior year. There are essentially three scholarships for which high school seniors are eligible. The Type 1 scholarship, the most coveted, is offered primarily to those students pursuing one of over a dozen technical majors such as Aeronautical Engineering or Meteorological and Atmospherical Sciences. It pays for all tuition and most fees, includes a generous allowance for textbooks, and provides a monthly stipend for living expenses. The second, called Type 2, is similar, but caps the tuition and fees award at a dollar amount roughly equivalent to the amount an out-of-state student could expect to pay at a state college or university. The third, called Type 7, caps the tuition award at the amount charged to in-state students. If the school does not offer different in- and out-of-state tuition, the scholarship may be converted to a three year scholarship of the second type.

In addition to the technical majors, candidates for an Air Force ROTC scholarship may elect to major in any one of two dozen different foreign languages, or virtually any non-technical major, such as business administration, economics or history. Those pursuing technical majors are nearly always assigned to Air Force jobs consistent with those majors.

male student behind pile of books

Separate Air Force ROTC scholarship programs are also available for first-time applicants who are already in their first or second year of college, called the In-College Scholarship Program (ICSP), and to enlisted military personnel from any branch of the service who want to attend college and earn a lieutenant’s commission. These applicants for an Air Force ROTC scholarship aren’t restricted in their choice of academic major.

Regardless of whether the scholarship is for two, three, or four years, all recipients of an Air Force ROTC scholarship commit themselves to serve a minimum of four years as a commissioned officer in the US Air Force upon graduation from college. Many go on to military careers, while others move on to other careers, often in the aerospace industry, after completing their service requirement.

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