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ROTC offers airmen education, commissioning opportunities

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- Enlisted people interested in becoming commissioned officers may want to consider Air Force ROTC.

Airmen have four Air Force ROTC commissioning programs from which to choose. If selected, they will enroll and will receive a commission when they complete the program.

The programs are the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, the Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program, the Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC, and the Professional Officer's Course-Early Release Program.

The AECP allows airmen to remain on active duty and continue to receive an income while going to school full time. People selected for AECP receive a tuition and fees scholarship for up to $15,000 per year, as well as a textbook allowance of $510 per year. Those selected may participate for up to three years, depending on their degree programs and previous academics. AECP is open only to specific majors, including nursing, meteorology, physics, math, most engineering majors, and certain foreign language and foreign area studies specialties.

Airmen selected for ASCP are released from active duty and enlisted into the Air Force Reserve (Obligated Reserve Section). They receive scholarships of up to $15,000 per year for tuition and fees and a $510-per-year textbook allowance. ASCP scholarships are available for two to four years and are open for technical and nontechnical degrees, including graduate studies. Airmen selected for ASCP may use Montgomery GI Bill benefits and also receive a tax-free monthly stipend of $250 to $400 depending on what year of school they are in.

SOAR is available for active-duty airmen with less than six years of service. Airmen selected for SOAR are discharged from the Air Force and enlisted in the Air Force Reserve (Obligated Reserve Section). SOAR includes a tuition and fees scholarship of up to $15,000 per year, a textbook allowance of $510 per year, and a tax-free monthly stipend of $250 to $400. These scholarships are available for two to four years for all academic majors. Commanders nominate airmen for the program, and major commands make the final selections.

The fourth program, POC-ERP, allows airmen who can complete all degree and commissioning requirements within two years to separate from active duty and enlist in the Air Force Reserve (Obligated Reserve Section). The program is available for all undergraduate and graduate degree plans. Airmen selected for POC-ERP receive a tax-free monthly stipend of $350 to $400 and may use their GI bill benefits. Also, they may qualify for the Professional Officer Course Incentive scholarship, which pays $3,000 per year for tuition and fees and $450 per year for textbooks.

Staff Sgt. Todd Partin, a cryptologic linguist with the 97th Intelligence Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., will soon turn in his stripes to participate in Air Force ROTC through POC-ERP.

"I had been looking through a lot of commissioning programs," Partin said. "I wanted to get my master's degree before commissioning, and it looked like ROTC is the best way to get that done."

Partin, who hopes to remain in the intelligence career field, has been in the Air Force 10 years. He said looking at the retirement benefits for officers and enlisted members factored into his decision. Once in the program, he wants to add to what he has learned from his enlisted career.

"I hope to gain an understanding of the differences between enlisted and officers," he said. "I'm hoping to take the experience I've gained while enlisted and grow from there."

Second Lt. Joel Silk, a recruiting officer for Air Force ROTC Detachment 470 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said there are several resources available to help enlisted members financially while they are enrolled in ROTC, including the Montgomery GI Bill, monthly stipend, university scholarships, student loans and the Veterans Affairs hospital, which helps with some medical needs.

For more information about Air Force ROTC, call (866) 4AFROTC or visit www.afrotc.com. (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

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