Sequester affects UWRF ROTC program
Due to the sequester, the Army has recently cut funds in terms of tuition assistance for students.
This will this affect the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program on campus.
Assistant Professor of Military Science Tabb Benzinger said that there are two or three types of assistance that is available to students in the military.
The type of assistance that got taken away is the Army tuition assistance. It is normally associated with the veterans who are not on the GI Bill.
“It is the federal tuition assistance that is most affected,” Benzinger said.
If the reserve cadet is receiving those federal dollars, they are affected.
Benzinger said that this is not to be misconstrued with the National Guard 100 percent tuition assistance for the Army. That is a state funded program.
The federal assistance is what has stopped until further notice. However, this does not affect the scholarship cadets that are part of ROTC.
It is strictly the federal dollars normally set aside for the reserve cadets and veterans.
Specifically at UW-River Falls, there are only about three to four students in the program who will be affected.
ROTC began on the UWRF campus in 2007 and currently has 32 members.
The program signed a partnership agreement with the Army as well as the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.
ROTC has 13 cadets and that number will go up to 16 cadets next semester. Benzinger said that the whole purpose of being on campus is to take college bound students and to train them as an apprentice leader.
This means that a student takes one ROTC course per semester. The students train as an Army officer and will earn both a degree and a commission.
He said that this is no different than what a Fortune 500 company does when seeking talent. The Army seeks a college bound student that has Army values and wants to perform as a military officer in either the active Army or the Army National Guard.
Upon graduation, that student serves in the active Army for three to four years, or in the National Guard or Army Reserves for six years.
As far as enrollment goes, Benzinger added that he thinks the instructor to cadet ratio is very good.
He said with the UWRF student population of about 6,300 students, he is happy with where the program is with numbers.
Benzinger also mentioned that the current ROTC cadet number of 32 is up there with schools such as UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire.
Though with the tuition assistance being stopped, Benzinger mentioned that there might need to be some changes to the program. He said that internally they might need to restructure as far as the benefits that students receive.
“I’m hoping that will be a last resort. We like to try to keep our students and the financial benefit of ROTC sacred,” Benzinger stated.
Other changes that may be made include the infrastructure of the program. Again, this would be a last resort.
Company Commander Christopher Post is currently in his fourth semester of ROTC and joined the Army in 2005. He said that he does not think that ROTC is going to change that much. However, he also thinks that there should not be cutting of military spending in terms of tuition assistance and the educational programs that they offer to the military.
“That’s a big part of the reason why people join the Army is for the college reimbursement. So I don’t necessarily agree with it,” said Post.