An ROTC student in full uniform standing outside
An ROTC student in full uniform standing outside

The Reserve Officer Training Corps is a college-based, officer-commissioning program. Students enroll in this program, which usually counts as a college elective, to learn leadership development, problem-solving and strategic-planning skills, as well as professional ethics. The consequences for ROTC disenrollment depend on the type of program the cadet signed up for and the reason for disenrollment.

Why Enroll

Students who join ROTC receive tuition assistance and money for fees and academic supplies. They also are eligible for scholarships. Students can enroll in the ROTC program for the military branch of their choice, including Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. In addition to the financial assistance, ROTC graduates receive career training, advice and placement. After completing the ROTC program, graduates who continue on to active duty start as an officer, a clear advantage over others who enlist without completing the program.

Reasons for Disenrollment

ROTC cadets may be involuntarily disenrolled for several reasons, including misconduct, substandard academic performance and honor code violations. Involuntarily disenrolled cadets are investigated and given the opportunity to challenge the disenrollment through restricted hearing procedures. Cadets may also voluntarily disenroll. Sometimes they are not able to complete the ROTC program, learn of a medical condition that renders them unfit for later duty or choose a different career path.

Consequences for Disenrollment

Some programs require cadets to continue on to active duty after graduation. Cadets who are involuntarily disenrolled lose their opportunity to serve as a commissioned officer and must pay back all financial assistance and scholarship money. They may instead be required to perform active duty for two years in an enlisted rank, depending on the circumstances of disenrollment and the commanding officer's recommendation. ROTC cadets who were not scholarship recipients usually must perform two years of active duty service.

Reimbursing the Government

Students who do not complete the ROTC program must reimburse the government for most or all of the financial assistance they received while enrolled. The amount owed depends on whether the cadet was a scholarship recipient and the reason for disenrollment. The student must set up a payment program and make monthly payments. The military does not charge interest on financial assistance. Cadets who voluntarily disenroll may challenge the debt.