5 April 2011
The Army Reserve Officers Training Corps is considered the nation’s premiere leadership development course. The purpose of the ROTC program is to develop the best possible officers for service in the United States Army. Iowa State University is fortunate to have one of the best ROTC programs in the country. Unfortunately, Iowa State falls behind many of the other institutions with ROTC programs because it does not provide any financial assistance to the cadets. Therefore, Iowa State should waive the room and board fee to Army ROTC scholarship cadets.
Currently, over 150 different universities provide benefits to the contracted Army ROTC cadets. The levels of benefits vary, however, depending on the institution. Some schools only offer a small reduction of the room and board costs, while others completely waive the room and board fees. These institutions range from small, private colleges to large, public universities. Some examples of the schools who waive all the room and board fees for cadets include University of Kentucky, Pennsylvania State University, Tulane University, Louisiana State University, University of Portland and University of Arkansas. Iowa State University does not offer any benefits to its ROTC scholarship cadets.
In order to enact this proposal, Iowa State would simply waive the room and board fees on the scholarship cadets’ university bill. These benefits would only be available for the durations of the scholarship. In most cases, this is either three or four academic years. This option would apply to either Willow or Helser hall. Willow Hall is where the Army ROTC learning community cadets currently live. Helser Hall, on the other hand, would provide an option on the opposite side of campus. This would be of particular benefit to engineering and design students. A standard meal plan would be included for both options. The approval process would start with Dr. Englin, the director of the department of residence at Iowa State. It would then go to Dr. Hill, the vice president of student affairs. Ultimately, the Iowa Board of Regents would most likely need to approve such a policy.
There are many quality students on campus who are deserving of assistance with the financial burdens of college. So why should the ROTC cadets receive this benefit instead of other students? First and foremost, the ROTC cadets are making a commitment to this great country that is comparable to few, if any, commitments that are made by other students. When each of the scholarship cadets signed on the dotted line, they agreed to give up eight years of their lives, following graduation, to defend this great nation. With such an extraordinary commitment comes a great deal of sacrifice. The years following graduation will be spent constantly moving to different states and countries. Also, many of the cadets will be deployed to combat zones overseas. Waiving the fee for room and board provides a great opportunity for Iowa State to show support for the cadets that are studying there.
Although most people do not realize it, the ROTC cadets are constantly acting as representatives of Iowa State University. Similar to the athletes, the cadets are frequently traveling and representing the university at competitions nationwide. Some examples of these competitions are ranger challenge, buddy ranger challenge, leadership development and assessment course and Sandhurst competition. These competitions are held as far away as Washington and New York and involve cadets from all across the United States as well as cadets from many different international institutions. The cadets from Iowa State are also representing the university at many different U.S. Army schools like airborne school, air assault school and mountain warfare school. Finally, cadets are representing the university on international travels through the Army’s Culture and Languages Program. Through this program cadets will travel to countries like Costa Rica, Tanzania, China, Ukraine and many other destinations across the world. Every single contracted cadet has an Iowa State University patch on his or her uniform. This means that Iowa State will be explicitly represented by every single cadet no matter where or what they are doing while in uniform. The cadets are arguably representing the university more than the athletes at Iowa State who are receiving a full ride.
Naturally, it would seem that providing free room and board to the scholarships cadets would be a very significant expense. However, this could ultimately generate a profit for Iowa State. The Army ROTC program at Iowa State is consistently one of the top five programs in the entire nation. In addition, Iowa State would be one of the only schools in the immediate region to provide free room and board. The combination of these two facts means that there is a significant opportunity to attract a new pool of students, many of whom would be out of state.
The stated rates for the proposed room and board package would be $7,444 per cadet. Tuition for an out of state student is $18,563 while tuition for an in state student is $6,997 (“Rates: ISU Housing”). This means that for every out of state cadet that the university attracts, the net revenue for the university will be $11,119. For in state cadets, the university will only have a net loss of $447. Clearly, the net revenue from out of state students will more than cover the possible loss from the in state students. Also, the tuition revenue would be guaranteed for multiple years because the students have signed a contract and the Army would be paying for the tuition. For the fall 2010 semester, there were 234 available spaces in the on campus housing (“Occupancy: ISU Housing”). These spaces were available despite record enrollment numbers at Iowa State. The university is not collecting any revenue from these unused spaces anyway, so they could be allotted to an ROTC scholarship cadet.
While there is no way to predict exactly how many new cadets this policy will attract, the experiences of other schools show that it could be significant. The University of Portland first began waiving room and board fees for cadets in attempt to attract new students. The University of Arkansas also implemented a similar program as another selling point to potential students. Both of the Universities’ administrations were more than willing to provide these benefits after seeing the potential monetary gain. For both schools, this has been a big success. Each has noted a substantial increase in enrollment for the ROTC program. In addition, Arkansas noted that they have been competitive with the senior military colleges in recruitment. Previously, prospective students and their parents would ask why they should come to Arkansas when they can go to a senior military college and get a full ride scholarship. The Army ROTC department at Arkansas claimed that they are now able to recruit many of these high quality students because the benefits are consistent.
Waiving room and board fees would result in considerable benefits to the cadets. First, it would eliminate the need for a job. ROTC cadets are some of the busiest students on campus and trying to balance classes, ROTC and a job is very difficult. The amount of effort a cadet puts forth toward academics tends to suffer because the cadet is busy working in order to pay for room and board. This would also eliminate the burden of taking out loans and paying them back in the future. Finally, more cadets would be able to attend. The cadets who may not have been able to attend because of the financial burden would be afforded a new opportunity.
Waiving room and board for the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship cadets would ultimately be of significant benefit to both Iowa State University and the cadets. It would make Iowa State more competitive in the recruitment of cadets and generate more revenue. Likewise, it would lift a burden from the busy lives of the cadets. Finally, this is a way to for the university to show its support of the cadets and strengthen the relationship between the Army ROTC program and the university.
Englin, Pete D. "Proposal Questions." Message to the author. 5 Apr. 2011. E-mail.
"Occupancy : ISU Housing." DOR Home : ISU Housing. Iowa State University. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. <http://www.housing.iastate.edu/places/occupancy.html>.
"Rates : ISU Housing." DOR Home : ISU Housing. Iowa State University. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. <http://www.housing.iastate.edu/rates/>.