Government cuts back
Military conflicts are multiplying around the globe. While U.S. Army and Marine Corps units fight a war in the streets and valleys of Afghanistan, the Egyptian government has crumbled from a rebellion of its people, putting Israeli and American forces on high alert. An open revolt in Libya may result in U.S. involvement. Tensions are high in the Korean Peninsula.
Yet despite the unpredictable world military situation, Norwich is accepting fewer recruits and has fewer four-year ROTC scholarship recipients with the next rook class, according to Richard Schneider, university president.
The U.S. military has reduced spending for ROTC scholarships, which has affected Norwich's bottom line.
"The military is cutting back, they don't need as many second lieutenants and ensigns," Schneider said. "They're getting ready for President Obama's slash of the Department of Defense."
Schneider questions this cut-back.
"Let me tell you, if we go to North Korea, the number of ROTC scholarships is going to increase rapidly. The United States military needs officers," said Schneider. "And there will always be wars."
The U.S. Armed Forces are "drawing down," decreasing their officer numbers, after ending a major conflict in Iraq and working to leave Afghanistan within the next decade.
Other changes within the military are affecting the need for officers. For example, in the U.S. Air Force, pilots (who must be college-degree holding officers) are less in-demand, being replaced with drones flown by enlisted service members.
The result is that Norwich is accepting fewer four-year ROTC scholarships from high school students each year.
In the fall of 2009, a record number of four-year ROTC scholarships came to Norwich: 123 scholarships from the freshmen class alone, from all different branches. This academic year, in the fall of 2010, only 70 four-year ROTC scholarships came to Norwich.
For the fall of 2011, Norwich expects no more than 55 four-year ROTC scholarships to attend. This loss of money puts a significant financial burden on the university.
"We received almost $3.2 million from those four-year ROTC scholarships in fall of 2009," Schneider said. "This year, with only 70 scholarships, nearly half as many as last year, we're only receiving $1.9 million from the military in ROTC scholarships."
"While I've been able to compensate for at least a million of those dollars in school cutbacks, we still have to account for the other $400,000 we won't be receiving from the military. It's hard for a senior military college like us to operate with these huge fluctuations in ROTC scholarships," Schneider said.
As money tightens, the competition in each branch for commis
sioned officers intensifies.
The U.S. Army ROTC on campus is changing its approach to selecting cadets for ROTC scholarships.
"In the past, we've had many cadets come here to Norwich, already having four-year ROTC scholarships," said Maj. Matthew Landrum, recruiting operations officer. "We are changing the process, now, the Army isn't selecting as many scholarship recipients before they come here. The Army wants to see cadets get selected for campus-based Army ROTC scholarships, rather than national-based."
The U.S. Army used to offer more scholarships to students in high school who sought money to pay for college while signing a contract to serve in the Army. These are national-based scholarships, which high school students compete for, nationally, in their last years of high school.
Now, the Army wants to cut down on national-based scholarships, in order to ensure that only the most qualified cadets receive financial assistance from an Army ROTC scholarship, according to Maj. Landrum.
"Now, when cadets come to college to compete, we get to watch and see who the best cadets are, ourselves," Maj. Landrum said. "With campus-based Army ROTC scholarships, only the most legitimate cadets we see get awarded the benefits of fully-paid tuition."
Other service branches are handling their selection process in a different manner. At Norwich Air Force ROTC, the selection process is slightly different.
"We offer scholarships of different levels, or "types," to assist Air Force cadets seeking a commission in the Air Force," said Capt. Alastair Gee, Air Force ROTC admissions officer and freshmen instructor. "These types are awarded to Air Force cadets based on the individual merit of each cadet applying."
In Air Force ROTC, these types of ROTC scholarships offer varying amounts of assistance: Type 1 scholarships are four years, covering 100 percent of tuition. Type 2 scholarships are either three or four years, and cover $18,000 in tuition per year. Another type of scholarship, Type 7, is four years, but only covers $9,000 tuition per year.
The Air Force also offers Express Scholarship options. These scholarships are awarded based upon the "needs of the Air Force," according to Capt. Gee. They are only offered to certain academics majors; however, those cadets who have those majors are highly competitive for these scholarships.
Some Express Scholarships from the Air Force include a Type 1 scholarship for electrical and computer engineering majors. There is also a Type 2 scholarship available for nursing majors.
"We offer these scholarships out at different rates each year, depending on how much money the Air Force puts into the Express Scholarship fund," Capt. Gee said. "We are expecting the Air Force to start channeling more money from national based scholarships, back into Express Scholarships."
This pattern between the Army and Air Force ROTC's is apparent, as both service branches intend to pay for cadets already in the ROTC program, rather than incoming freshmen cadets. According to Maj. Landrum and Capt. Gee, this is to ensure ROTC scholarship money goes to only the most qualified cadets.
For Norwich Navy ROTC, however, the situation is slightly different.
According to Lt. Jarrod Gazarek, Norwich Navy ROTC submarine officer and naval science instructor, the Navy has had a "definite decrease" in the number of Navy ROTC scholarships offered in the past two years.
"The Navy has become more strict with their selection standards," Lt. Gazarek said. "Competing midshipmen need a higher level of physical fitness and academics than in the past."
This decrease in the Navy's ability to offer as many ROTC scholarships stems from the "financial changes going on in the economy, and the cutbacks currently being done to the Department of Defense," Lt. Gazarek said.
In order to receive a Navy ROTC scholarship, naval science instructors must work to find midshipmen who are taking courses in technical majors.
"We have a tier system when selecting for ROTC scholarship," Lt. Gazarek said. "For Tier 1, the most competitive midshipmen have technical, engineering majors. For Tier 2, we have math and science majors, and for Tier 3, these midshipmen have humanities and social science majors."
The lower the tier, the more competitive a midshipman is for selection. For example, a Tier 1 midshipman would be much more competitive for a scholarship than a Tier 3 midshipman, although some Tier 3 midshipmen do receive scholarships.
"Eighty-five percent of our selected midshipmen for ROTC scholarship are Tier 1 or Tier 2 majors. Only 15 percent of the majors selected are Tier 3," according to Lt. Gazarek.
While the Navy concentrates on academic majors when selecting for Navy ROTC scholarships, the Marine Corps ROTC uses different criteria.
"When I was at the Marine Officer Instructor Conference in Pensacola, Fla., they told us that the Marine Corps ROTC scholarships would not increase in numbers," said Capt. David Castro, Norwich marine officer instructor. "But did they say the number of scholarships would go down? They didn't say that either."
"They just told us that the number of Marine Corps ROTC scholarships would not increase. So what that tells me is, that the number of scholarships available will stay at the same level as last year," Capt. Castro said.
Because the Marine Corps operates as a part of the Navy, the money for Marine Corps ROTC scholarships comes from the Navy. So as the Navy changes its scholarship programs, due to a faltering, post-war economy, the Marine Corps can expect similar changes in its ROTC scholarship program as well.
"The scholarship programs for the Navy and Marine Corps are tied closely together," Capt. Castro said. "It's coming from the same pot of money. So we're definitely not looking at an increase in scholarships offered from the Marine Corps anytime soon."
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