The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) was created by the National Defense Act of 1916. It has programs all across the country in various colleges, universities, and schools. The primary goals of Army ROTC is to produce recruits that benefit from the higher education found at college with tough leadership development training - skills that will help in both a military and civilian career. Cadets take classes and do field training on military skills, adventure training, and leadership. Otherwise, your college experience will be very similar to your classmates that aren't in ROTC, but when you graduate from college, you will have the honor of being an officer in the US Army. About 60% of the Second Lieutenants who go Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard went through ROTC.
Joining ROTC to become an officer
Start the Army ROTC Basic Course when you start college.
If you have at least two more years before finishing college, but not enough time to finish the Basic Course, you can take the Leader's Training Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky during the summer. Those that complete the 28-day training program can start the Advanced Course in the fall when you return to school. Those that take this path may qualify for a $5,000 bonus.
If you are currently a member of the US Army Reserves or National Guard, you can enroll in the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP). In that program, you will receive officer training while completing college and can earn both your Reserve/Guard pay and benefits AND your allowances for Army ROTC.
Army ROTC Scholarships
Scholarships are awarded based on a student's merit and grades, not financial need. Along with academic status, there is a physical assessment (link to pdf of scorecard) made. Everything from full-tuition scholarships to two-year scholarships are available. It is possible to get a scholarship that will cover room and board instead of paying for tuition. There are also possibilities of getting additional money for books and school fees. All students that receive US Army ROTC scholarships must commit themselves to eight years of service in the US Army.
Those that receive scholarships and those cadets not receiving scholarships but enrolled in the Advanced Course, can also receive a monthly "living expenses" allowance. At this time, the monthly allowances available are:
You can enroll in the ROTC Basic Course (first two years of college) and not be obligated to join the Army.
Once you either accept an Army ROTC scholarship or enter the Army ROTC Advanced Course, you must agree to complete an eight-year period of service with the US Army. You can serve full time in the Army for 3 years (or 4 for scholarship recipients) and spend the rest of the 8-year period in the Individual Ready Reserve. Some cadets may be able to serve part time in the Reserve or National Guard.