ATLANTA – If you happen to turn on the television today or scroll through your news feed on social media, you will likely see a story about student debt. If you dig a little deeper, you will find a story about a student who wasn’t able to further their education because they couldn’t afford it.
If you’re one of those students, this article is meant for you.
Annually, the Marine Corps awards the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Marine Scholarship to an allotted number of students each year. It pays the full college tuition, including $750 per academic year for text books and a monthly subsistence allowance.
“People usually try to put a dollar figure on it, but it essentially pays the tuition at any eligible NROTC school so it can range from $50,000 to $200,000, it depends on what college they choose to go to and get accepted into,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Gabrielson, the 9th Marine Corps District deputy training team officer. “You won’t find a scholarship like this anywhere else.”
Interested applicants must first meet eligibility requirements.
Academically, applicants must have at least a score of 22 on the ACT, 1000 on the SAT or a 74 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. There is no minimum grade point average requirement.
Physically, applicants must achieve a 175 on the Marine Corps physical fitness test, which consists of a three mile run, crunches and pull ups.
Other requirements consist of being a United States citizen, between the ages of 17 and 23, and on track to graduate high school.
“We are looking at the whole person,” said Capt. Matthew Wagner, the Recruiting Station Oklahoma City executive officer. “What we want are Marine officers. We want the future of our Corps to be well-rounded individuals, not somebody who’s an Einstein, but can’t do two pull ups.”
Once the submissions are in, two boards are held to determine who receives the NROTC Marine scholarships. The early board is held between October and November. The regular board is held between February and March.
“If an applicant is not selected in the early board, they can resubmit for the regular board and get two chances to get looked at in a year for a potential scholarship,” Gabrielson explained.
The early board was held Oct. 26, 2016, at the J. Walter Thompson building in Atlanta, Georgia. Board members there reviewed 114 scholarship packages.
The applicants are scored in three different areas: academics, leadership and physical fitness.
“We gauge them on academics like their GPA, leadership in student government or clubs, and their physical fitness on the PFT and in sports,” Gabrielson explained. “We take all that into account to make a good decision on whether they have the potential to be a good officer down the road.”
At the end of the day, board members chose 21 students to receive the scholarship, leaving 30 scholarships to be awarded during the regular board in the spring.
Students who receive the scholarship can then choose to deny or accept it. Those who accept will be part of the NROTC program.
The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps is a multi-year program that runs concurrently with a student’s normal college or university educational course of study. In addition to a normal academic workload leading to a Bachelor’s degree, NROTC students attend classes in Naval Science, participate in unit drill and physical training, and other activities. Students are also taught the leadership principles and high ideals of a military officer. During the summer break between school years, NROTC students participate in a variety of training courses. These periods of instruction help students understand different career options, as well as familiarize them with a military life. Upon graduation students are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.
“Being part of the NROTC unit was a lot like having a part-time job,” said Capt. James Stenger, a Marine public affairs officer and former NROTC student at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “We had a few extra classes each semester and worked out as a unit twice a week. We got to have the normal college experience, but knew the work we were putting in was ultimately going to allow us to serve our country.”
With the scholarship being highly competitive, a board member had words of advice for future applicants.
“What I would say is if you’re applying, be confident and be able to talk about why you want to be a Marine officer and why you’re motivated to participate in the NROTC,” said Wagner. “It’s not what the military can provide for you, but what you can give to the military.”
The regular board in March determines who receives the remaining 30 NROTC Marine scholarships.
“To those interested in applying, but don’t know where to start or maybe just want more information, I would say contact any recruiter and they’ll help you out,” Gabrielson said. “When you really break it down, it’s an amazing opportunity and it can’t be beat.”