ROTC grows during recession

By Jenna Duncan

Due to the current economic crisis and shortage of loans, more and more students are finding it harder to make steep tuition payments. Rather than the traditional methods though, some are choosing another path to get into college – joining Northeastern’s ROTC.

“The economy is impacting decisions for a lot of people,” Lt. Col. Kate Scanlon said. “Army ROTC is an attractive offer in an economic crisis.”

The ROTC has experienced a nearly 60 percent increase in members this incoming year, and Scanlon said she expects a steady increase next year if the economic trend continues. Scholarship opportunities, such as a 20 percent tuition grant alongside aided room and board also contributed to the enrollment increase, although Scanlon said financial offers like this are nothing new.

“We haven’t changed our financial aid offers,” Scanlon said. “We’ve just seen an increase in those that are applying for scholarships.”

The increase in scholarship applications, however, has led to an increase in scholarship granted money, coming from the congress’s Department of the Army budget.

“I have had a number of submitted scholarships, and I’ve never been denied one,” Scanlon said. “I’ve been allowed to get more money than I am allotted to receive.”

Last year there was a Leadership Training Course for those who had two years of school left but wanted to be part of the ROTC. It is a month-long intensive training period, designed to catch up those who are joining late.

Three participated last year, but only one met the requirements and will continue to Northeastern’s Liberty Battalion. Another three students have already signed up to participate this summer, including middler criminal justice major Chris McCrobie.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “You’re submersed into it [for the month]. It’s like boot camp for officers that they normally don’t get.”

By completing the leadership training course, successful participants gain $5,000 along with the other financial aid offered for being in ROTC.

However, not everyone joining ROTC currently is signing up solely because of economic situations. Scanlon said the past two classes that have had the most drastic increases are just as motivated and determined if not more than previous classes.

“Our freshman and sophomore classes are excited and much larger than we’ve had in the past,” she said. “There’s a greater sense of energy, and camaraderie isn’t as tight knit but there’s more enthusiastic participation.”

Also, anyone who joins because of the wrong reasons won’t make it very far in the program, Scanlon said.

“Once you’re in ROTC you have to really commit,” she said. “It’s competitive and there’s a lot of work in it. I mean there aren’t a lot of college kids in the gym at 6 a.m three days a week. They find out pretty quickly that you really have to commit to be in the program, and if they don’t want to they leave.”

The economy has recently led the army to appeal as another opportunity to join, McCorbie said. He had previously considered joining, but because of the current crisis he reconsidered and decided now is the time, he said.

“This past year it’s been getting harder to pull loans so it’s a reason that people will [join],” McCorbie said. “Doing ROTC is a two-in-one deal, and I think that people want to join the military, so a lot of people are relooking at it because of the economic situation. Hopefully when I come back in the fall I’ll be contracted, get the scholarship and school will be set up from here on out.”