College alters financial aid policy for ROTC students

Prompted by a conversation between Max Heninger ’14 and David Folsom ’17, a student pursuing Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at the College, College Council (CC) recently proposed that the College eliminate scholarship displacement for military scholarships. With this policy, CC hoped to better honor the contributions of military students to the community both within the College and at large.

The current policy of “scholarship displacement” states that any outside grant students receive results in a reduction of the grant money the student would have otherwise received from the College. CC’s proposal to eliminate this policy did not pass through the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid; however, the proposal precipitated policy change, rendering the College among the most generous peer institutions for ROTC financial aid. The fundamental opposition to the total elimination of scholarship displacement lies in the commitment to awarding scholarships based on need and not merit.

Although the College did not pass the proposal, it did make several changes to the policy: “These awards [ROTC scholarships] are considered the same as outside scholarships and as such will first replace the student loan and term-time job components of the aid package.  In addition, to recognize the extended service commitment of ROTC candidates, ROTC funding can then be used to reduce the family contribution determined by Williams to the federally determined family contribution (if it is less).  Any remaining ROTC monies will reduce the Williams grant dollar-for-dollar.” In other words, ROTC students whose federally determined family contribution is less than the College determined family contribution will receive more financial aid.

“This policy change reaffirms Williams’ commitment to embracing diversity of all types by doing more to recruit military students,” Heninger said. “Hopefully, this move will lead to more ROTC pre-frosh giving Williams a closer look.  Military students have a lot to give Williams.  They provide a unique viewpoint on life that enriches everything at Williams from class discussions to late night conversations at Snack Bar.  Obviously more needs to be done to recruit more military students to campus, but what happened this year was a positive step in the right direction.”

Folsom agrees “the policy is a step in the right direction” but said “I do not think it is enough … The change Williams made is a change that significantly helps my family, but it is a change that will not help many … others on military scholarships. The administration recognized the specialness in scholarships from the military … but stopped short of making a real difference for most potential military students.”

Folsom is currently committed the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC). In his view, the money the Air Force grants to college students functions primarily as a financial incentive for those students to become officers. If the student decides not to honor the “contract for a future commitment to serve,” ROTC will renege its financial assistance. As Folsom sees it, “scholarship displacement created a disincentive to enter into that contract, and therefore a disincentive to join the military.” Folsom explained that last year, two students who were planning to join AFROTC opted out when they learned about the policy.

  • howard

    There are no military students at Williams. There are officer candidates… but no one at the school is in the service or who has actually served in the Armed Forces of the United States. In other words- no veterans, no military. None since 9/11. Worst veterans record in the United States.

    You do not get to claim status as a member of our armed forces or a veteran just because you are in ROTC.

    • Jason

      Howard’s comments are not entirely correct. Cadets or midshipmen with ROTC scholarships are under contract and are technically a member of the Individual Ready Reserves of that military service. Should the student violate that contract, they will very likely be called to active duty service.

      • Howard

        Jason- While what you are saying is accurate to a finite degree- these fine young Americans that want to be future leaders in our military are not subjected to the UCMJ. They are not in the military.

        I suppose a cadet at one of the academies could technically claim military service status… but I never met any that did during my 22 years in the Navy. The fact that the record (and you) misstates in this case matters. The nuances of service in this instance definitely matter. They are ROTC Cadets, not member of our armed forces. I wish them all the luck in the world, and I am very proud of the fact that they have volunteered for future service. But they are not veterans: they are not in the United States Military yet.

        Williams has a long way to go: not one single veteran of OIF/OEF matriculated. This article shows a definite lack of understanding to the nuances of service programs and service program obligations.

  • Howard

    Jason- And you do not have to take my word for it. You can go to any official ROTC webpage and read about it. Being in the ROTC is not considered military service. You are not joining the Army, Navy, or Air Force when you take ROTC in college.

    Go ahead and read question one of the below link…

    http://www.cadetcommand.army.mil/answers.aspx

  • David Folsom

    Howard- You are certainly correct in stating that I am not an active duty member of the military subject to the UCMJ, but as I have never explicitly “claimed status as a member of the armed forces” I am not sure what you are reacting to. The only status I am claiming to have is that of an ROTC cadet, however you want to interpret that is up to you. Jason is of course right though; next Fall when I take the oath of enlistment I will technically be in the military, the “Individual Ready Reserves” to be exact.

    The article perhaps uses “military student” loosely (a term I never used to describe myself), but I should also point out that there is no accepted definition of “military student”. You are choosing to define that as someone who is subject to the UCMJ, or a veteran, and is in school. That’s fine, but if someone else is choosing to define “military student” as someone college actively participating in a military training program while taking classes at the same time, then that does describe me.

    Lastly, in Williams defense, they are trying to recruit veterans. Williams participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, which I am sure you are familiar with. The financial aid office at Williams also considers all veterans to be financially independent regardless of there current familial connections. This means that the financial aid office will only consider the money a veteran currently has saved when determining need and will not consider potential parental contribution; the implications is that the financial aid award will likely be very generous. Further, although not mentioned in the article, this change in policy applies to all military scholarships not just ROTC scholarships. So this policy is designed to attract “real” military students as well.

    • howard

      I think Williams considering your ROTC funding outside of your overall aid picture is a good thing.Thank you for volunteering to be in ROTC. I wish you all the luck in the world in the service. We have a fine military. You will not be disappointed.

      What I object to in the article (and in Jason’s response) is the odd insinuation that your experience as a cadet somehow enlightens you to some kind of special perspective as a ‘military student’ when you have absolutely no one on campus with any time in service. I view this as a way of covering up the fact you guys have no vets. Sending good and bright young men and women to war is one thing- a very important thing- bringing them home, is quite another.

      Williams has the worst record for veterans matriculation in the United States. Is the school 100% yellow ribbon yet? I do not believe it is. simple statement of 100% support, like most other affluent schools- like say, Dartmouth. Why parse words? Why make a veteran go through a bunch of red tape when all you have to do is match past 17.5 k and you have billions of dollars? That is not support- it is an obstacle.

      We are over a decade into a global war and there is a robust GI Bill, yet Williams’ record with veterans is, well, zero. There really is no excuse for that, other than some kind of odd circular reasoning. Williams matriculates exactly the kind of students it wants to… be it tennis players, foreign students, name it. It is the number 1 ranked school in the nation. The ‘babe in the woods’ routine is more than a little stale- and you should not believe a word of it David. As a potential future officer, don’t let Williams get away with it!

      Anyhow David, thank you for volunteering to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. Best wishes and all the luck in the world.

  • howard

    By the way, what is it you want to do in the service David? I was in the Naval Special Warfare for 22 years… got out in 2012. I live about 25 yards from campus, if you have an interest in special operations I can give you my perspective on different programs if you are interested.

  • William

    Hello Howard,

    I hope this email gets to you. I will be an incoming freshman this year, I will be playing football and am interested in maybe serving (Hopefully in the Navy Special Warfare) after college at Williams. Is there an ROTC program at Williams? I feel this will give me a great example of what the military will be and can maybe take care of some tuition. Thanks in advance.

    Will