Facing a student disciplinary or academic issue in college can be nerve-wracking under the best of conditions. But for students in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a blemished record can mean the end of a future career as a military officer, a possible loss of scholarship funds, and a mandatory term of enlisted active duty service. If you're facing a student disciplinary issue or academic challenges, you shouldn't try to handle it on your own. A conviction or finding of responsibility, or an adverse academic consequence , could end in your ROTC command disenrolling you from the ROTC program and terminating your scholarship and your hopes for the military service you had envisioned.
Military Service Obligations and Contracts
The Army, Navy, and Air Force each have ROTC programs at colleges across the country, and it's an excellent training and recruiting avenue for future military officers. Many students in the program enter ROTC through partial or full scholarships. Students receive funding for college and training and education in military history, leadership, and time management in exchange for eight years of service in the military. Through ROTC, students learn the skills needed to become successful military officers.
However, if a scholarship holder leaves before completing college or disenrolls voluntarily or involuntarily, they may still have a mandatory military service obligation. Non-scholarship holders can also join ROTC. However, cadets may contract to become officers after college in their junior year. At that point, an ROTC cadet who leaves the program may also have a mandatory service obligation.
While we use the Army as an example here, the Air Force and the Navy ROTC programs involve similar service commitments. According to the Army’s official website, students who have an Army ROTC scholarship or who enroll in the ROTC advanced course, generally reserved for college juniors and seniors, must meet a service requirement of eight years in the Army. These requirements include:
- Serving full-time in the Army for three years (four years for scholarship winners), with the balance in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
- Some cadets may serve part-time in the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard while pursuing a civilian career
Enrolling in the Army ROTC Basic Course does NOT involve a commitment of service to the Army unless you have received an Army ROTC scholarship. All scholarship students will be required to serve in the military for a period of eight years. This obligation may be fulfilled by serving four years on Active Duty, followed by four years [of] service in the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR).
In some cases, soldiers currently serving on active duty may receive an early discharge to participate in the Army's Green to Gold program to receive a college degree and become a commissioned officer in the Army. These students must also complete a service obligation once commissioned and are also subject to the Army ROTC student contract.
After a student accepts an ROTC scholarship for any service branch, or when non-scholarship students enter a contract to become officers after completing college, they enter a multifaceted contract with the Department of Defense. This complex contract mandates that cadets meet certain physical fitness, academic, and weight standards, complete military training, and meet ethical, moral, and legal standards. If a cadet doesn't maintain these standards, their ROTC command can refer them for disenrollment.
ROTC students could face disenrollment, loss of their scholarship, and face mandatory military service because of a myriad of disciplinary issues they face in college, including:
- Academic Misconduct: Academic misconduct can range from plagiarism to copying another student to removing a book from the library to keep others from using it.
- Other Academic Issues: Other academic issues could involve poor grades or academic suspensions and appeals.
- Student Disciplinary Issues: These violations can involve any violation of the school's student code of conduct, including violating professionalism standards, social media policies, alcohol-related incidents, or theft on campus.
- Criminal Convictions: Criminal convictions can also result in disenrollment from ROTC, including drug violations, assault, theft, or computer crimes.
- Title IX Allegations: Title IX violations such as sexual assault, harassment, or intimate partner violations can also result in ROTC disenrollment.
The ROTC Disenrollment Process
Each branch of ROTC will have slightly different procedures for disenrollment, but ultimately it will result in removal from service and the ROTC program. You may also be prohibited from enrolling as an officer in any military branch in the future. Moreover, the Department of Defense may order you to repay all your ROTC scholarship funds and serve time enlisted in the military.
ROTC Disciplinary Investigations
If you face a disciplinary or academic proceeding as an ROTC student, you may face disenrollment from ROTC. But as a cadet, you are still entitled to due process, just as you are during college disciplinary proceedings, including a disenrollment hearing board. During a disenrollment hearing, the board will determine:
- Whether they have reason to disenroll you from ROTC
- Whether the command should disenroll you
- Whether you should repay your scholarship funds
- Whether the DoD should require you to serve a term of service on active duty
However, most school disciplinary procedures don't outline your due process rights as a cadet during the disenrollment process. Many ROTC commands aren't familiar with your rights during the process, making it important that you hire an experienced student disciplinary lawyer to protect your rights during a disenrollment hearing or the ROTC disciplinary process.
ROTC Branch Specific Contracts and Procedures
While each military branch's ROTC contract is similar, they do have some distinct differences and procedures. As a result, it's important that you retain a student defense advisor or attorney with experience in handling ROTC disenrollment procedures.
Army ROTC Student Contract
When enrolling in ROTC as a scholarship student or in the senior ROTC course, students enter into a contract with the U.S. Department of the Army and incur a service obligation in the military. Under the contract, the Army provides funding to the student, including:
- Paying tuition and fees
- Paying books and laboratory expenses
- Paying a monthly subsistence amount set by the Department of Defense based on their ROTC year
- Paying for attendance at a Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC)
- Providing U.S. Army-sponsored training and U.S. Army-funded reserve officer training
- Commissioning the student as an officer in the U.S. Army at a grade of second lieutenant upon completion of the academic, military, and other requirements of the Army ROTC program
In some cases, the student may delay their active service requirement to complete a graduate or professional program. As part of the ROTC student's obligations under the contract, they agree to:
- Enlist in the reserve component of the U.S. Army for the period required by the Secretary of the Army
- Enroll and complete the necessary courses needed to obtain the degree named in the contract, and to complete the required ROTC courses needed for the ROTC program
- Remain a full-time student in good standing enrolled at the educational institution named in the contract until they receive their degree
- Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale and a 2.0 GPA for each quarter or semester. If the school or program has higher academic requirements, the student must also meet those standards cumulatively and by quarter or semester
- Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for all ROTC courses, as well as a quarterly or semester GPA of at least 2.0 for these courses
- Meet ROTC medical and physical fitness standards, including the Army Physical Fitness Test standards and the standard and screening weight and body fat percentages set by the Army Weight Control Program required of active duty soldiers each year and before attending the Army LDAC program. The student must also undergo pre-commissioning drug and alcohol screening tests and testing for HIV antibodies
- Nurse cadet and Army medical specialist corps cadets must also complete a baccalaureate program with an acceptable academic and clinical program in English and pass the professional and licensing exam requirements set by Army regulations
Army ROTC Disenrollment
While each branch follows a similar process for ROTC cadet disenrollment, the Army procedures follow the U.S. Army Cadet Command Document CC-PAM 145-4 from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff. This pamphlet delineates the Army ROTC enrollment, retention, and disenrollment criteria, policies, and procedures. When the command disciplines a cadet, there are typically three options:
- Administrative suspension
- Termination of a scholarship
Your ROTC command will typically consider probation for non-scholarship cadets with a GPA that falls below the cumulative, quarterly, or semester minimum of 2.0, failure to maintain full-time academic status, failure to meet the required APFT or weight standards, and misconduct such as a civil conviction or incidents with the authorities harming the cadet's reputation. If you are a scholarship recipient, probation isn't typically permitted. Rather the ROTC command will consider an administrative suspension of your scholarship.
- Administrative Suspension
Administrative suspension involves temporarily losing scholarship benefits for failing to maintain your contractual retention standards. Your command may use administrative suspension if your grades, physical fitness standards, weight, or conduct don't meet ROTC requirements. Both probation and a suspension or termination of your ROTC scholarship will follow the same procedures under CC-PAM 145-4. The ROTC command will:
- Complete a Cadet Action Request including the reason and school term for suspension
- Notify the cadet in writing that their scholarship benefits are being withheld, the reason, the term, and their obligation to continue enrollment in ROTC. The notification must also inform the cadet that failure to correct the deficiency can result in disenrollment and that the cadet's subsistence allowance will continue
- Notify the university
- Termination of a Scholarship
If your ROTC command recommends that the Army terminate your scholarship, they may either recommend disenrollment or termination of your scholarship with retention as a non-scholarship cadet. If the command retains you as a non-scholarship cadet, you won't have to pay back the scholarship funds if you complete the ROTC program and accept a commission if offered.
To retain you as a non-scholarship cadet, the command must:
- Place the Cadet in an administrative suspension status (see Para 4-7 below) and notify the Cadet formally of the action being taken, the reason(s) and his/her status in the program.
- Notify the institution of the suspension of the Cadet's scholarship benefits.
- Submit the request to HQCC for final decision. If the Cadet subsequently fails to meet Non-Scholarship criteria, disenrollment action will be submitted to HQCC IAW Chapter 6 below. The Cadet will not be disenrolled/discharged without HQCC decision.
- Cadets with an approved scholarship termination and retention in a Non- Scholarship status will not sign a Non-Scholarship contract. They remain governed by the terms and conditions of the scholarship contract.
The command must counsel you on this process, the requirements to keep your scholarship, the curriculum, military service requirements, and other obligations. The command must document the counseling and have the cadet sign and date it.
Army ROTC Disenrollment Process
For disenrollment, the Army must follow disenrollment checklists and procedures created by the Army. The steps include:
- Notifying you of their intent to initiate disenrollment, including the reasons for this action
- This notice will place you on a leave of absence pending disenrollment, suspend your scholarship, give you the option to waive an investigation or choose the active duty option
- The command must also provide you with a copy of all documentary evidence that supports disenrollment
- If you notify the command that you've retained an attorney, they must then send all documents and notifications to your attorney
- The command will then appoint a review board comprised of three or more commissioned officers as voting members
- The board president will report to the judge advocate for a legal briefing, notify you of the time and place for the board, provide a list of witnesses, and provide your rights
- The board must also give your witnesses a minimum of five days' notice when the board will convene
- The board must also secure the witnesses it intends to have testify at the hearing and allow at least one university representative to be present
At the hearing, the board must advise you of your rights, including the right to:
- Have an attorney present
- Examine and object to evidence
- Cross-examine and object to the testimony of government witnesses
- Call witnesses and introduce evidence
- Testify as a witness or to have no adverse inference taken against you for failing to testify or refusing to answer a question
- Object to any board member
- Dispute the amount or validity of the scholarship debt
- Invite a university representative to observe the proceedings
At the hearing:
Evidence must be obtained to support disenrollment or retention, as appropriate, and to support recommendations regarding call to active duty, recoupment of scholarship funds, or waiver of recoupment. At a minimum, evidence must be included to support the findings and recommendations required […].
The evidentiary standard is by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
- Report of the Proceedings
After the hearing, the board must create a report of the proceedings with their findings and recommendations. The facts in the record must support these findings and recommend the terms of disenrollment.
- Terms of Army ROTC Disenrollment
If the Army disenrolls you, your Army ROTC contract also states the terms of disenrollment, including:
- If disenrolled before the period of obligation, before your junior or senior year, the Secretary of the Army may order you to serve four years on active duty
- If disenrolled after your period of obligation, the Army may require you to serve six years on active duty
- The Army may also require you to repay the funds provided to you, including your scholarship, fees, books, lab expenses, and supplies in full plus interest
Any future enlistment will not replace your duty to reimburse the Army under your ROTC contract. Moreover, you cannot discharge this debt in bankruptcy.
Air Force ROTC Contract
When you enroll in ROTC as a scholarship student or in the senior ROTC course, you enter a contract with the U.S. Department of the Air Force and incur a service obligation in the Air Force or Space Force. Under your contract, the Air Force will provide you financial support and makes certain agreements. These agreements, from the Air Force form 1056, include:
- To pay the cadet a subsistence allowance at the rate and for the period prescribed by law and Air Force instruction: however, such period will not exceed forty (40) months for a maximum of four (4) academic years (or fifty (50) months and five (5) academic years for those cadets enrolled in a 5-year academic program approved by the Secretary of the Air Force) while the cadet is a member of the AFROTC program. Payments will commence on the day the cadet starts instruction under 10 USC 2104 or 10 USC 2107 (whichever applies) and will end upon completion of instruction thereunder or upon termination of membership, whichever occurs first.
- To pay the cadet, at the rate prescribed for cadets at the United States Air Force Academy, while he or she is traveling to or from or participating in field training under 1o USC 2104(bl(6) or other practical military training as defined in AFROTC instructional guidance which lasts not less than six (6) consecutive calendar days.
- To ensure that an AFROTC program is available at the academic institution listed above or at an academic institution with which the institution listed above has a cross-town or consortium agreement such that the cadet may receive training to qualify for a commission in the United States Air Force, if such an appointment is offered by the Air Force.
- For cadet receiving financial assistance pursuant to 10 USC 2107 - To pay the cadet a ________ (list type of scholarship or incentive), as defined in the applicable AFROTC instruction in effect on the date the cadet signs this contract, provided funds are appropriated by Congress for this purpose, and provided the cadet maintains all retention standards specified in this agreement and remains enrolled in the AFROTC program. The Air Force's obligation to pay scholarship monies will not occur unless the cadet is in active scholarship status 45 days after the start of each academic year. In such case, payment of scholarship monies will be retroactive to the beginning of the term. For those cadets activating a scholarship after the 45th day of an academic term, payment will also be retroactive to the beginning of the term. Payment of scholarship monies for subsequent academic years is conditioned upon funds being appropriated by Congress. This contract shall not obligate the Air Force to pay for anything other than the cost of tuition and any other fees due as authorized by federal statute.
Air Force ROTC Disenrollment
Your AFROTC contract will also state that the Air Force can disenroll you for any of these reasons:
- Requirement to Meet Military, Academic, and Medical Retention Standards: I understand that in order to remain in the AFROTC program, I must meet or exceed all military, academic, and medical retention standards prescribed by law and Air Force instructions. Failure to meet applicable retention standards may result in my disenrollment from the AFROTC program.
- Breach or Anticipatory Breach of Contract: I understand that if I breach, or act in a manner that demonstrates an intent to breach. as defined by Air Force instructions, this contract, I will be subject to disenrollment from the AFROTC program.
- Demonstrated Indifference to Military Training or Environment: I understand that if I act in a manner that demonstrates an indifference to military training or apathy toward the military environment. I will be subject to disenrollment from the AFROTC program
- Conscientious Objector Status: If at any time I apply for conscientious objector status. I am not relieved of any obligations under this contract. Regardless of the final determination on my application. I specifically understand and agree that if my application for conscientious objector status is approved, I will be required to repay all educational expenses expended on my behalf to maximum extent permitted by law.
- I understand that I must compete favorably with applicants for a POC Enrollment Allocation. Failure to do so will result in disenrollment and the consequences thereof.
- Unsatisfactory Completion of Field Training: I understand and agree that failing to achieve a satisfactory or higher rating during my field training encampment may result in my disenrollment from the AFROTC program.
Under the terms of the Air Force procedure manual governing Air Force ROTC contracted ROTC cadets, the Air Force can disenroll any cadet for cause or for no cause at any time. However, if they fail to follow their procedures, courts may look askance at the action. Typically, when the Air Force disciplines a cadet, there are three options:
- Suspending a scholarship
- Terminating a scholarship and disenrollment
If placed on probation, your command will typically do so for one semester. Your command may place you on probation if you fail to maintain physical fitness, weight, or academic standards. Your command will typically counsel you and require you to complete remediation physical fitness training, study halls, or academic tutoring, or track your weight or other physical standards. If the command suspends your scholarship, it will also typically happen for one semester. Without remediation, you could face termination of your scholarship and disenrollment proceedings.
Air Force ROTC Disenrollment Procedures
If you face disenrollment by your AFROTC program, the command must follow the applicable procedures set forth by the Air Force. When the command initiates disenrollment, they must first determine if they need an investigation. The command won't need a formal investigation to disenroll you if:
- You are exercising your option to leave ROTC during the first year of the program
- An appropriate medical authority medically disqualifies you
- You voluntarily waive your right to an investigation and board review within five days after you receive notice of a pending disenrollment from your AF ROTC command
- Your command will typically perform an “investigation” before disenrollment if:
- You fail to meet academic standards
- You fail to meet the standards necessary for commissioning as an officer in the Air Force
- You fail to meet the standards needed for retention by the Air Force
- The investigation must include documentation of your failure to meet these standards and address whether that failure was in your control. Investigations might happen for a wide range of behaviors, including:
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol-related incidents
- Failure to meet BMI and weight standards
- An integrity violation
- Inability to pass a security clearance
- Failure to create an adequate family plan
- Misconduct that results in “adverse civil involvement,” which typically means a civil lawyer
- Conduct that would violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice
- Showing undesirable character traits
- “Ineptitude, to include the failure to exercise the maturity and/or judgment expected of an officer candidate, or unacceptable adjustment to the military environment.”
To begin the investigation, your command will issue AF ROTC Form 10 and Section I of AFROTC Form 111, Student Status Statement of Understanding, which it will serve upon you. You will then have 24 hours to consider your options, complete the form and return it to your command. If you don't, your command will continue the investigation in your absence. The form you complete simply acknowledges receipt and your understanding of the facts relevant to the investigation disenrollment. You can also waive your right to an investigation on this form. You can then submit written matters to the investigation within ten days or waive that right.
The disenrollment investigation is intended to be a “non-adversarial process to gather all the facts in each cadet's case,” so that the detachment can make an informed recommendation to Air Force headquarters about retention or disenrollment. Under Air Force ROTC Regulation 36-2011:
The investigation must be conducted so the cadet has the opportunity to present evidence for consideration by the Detachment/CC, and the disenrollment authority at HQ AFROTC. The disenrollment investigation is the cadet's opportunity to dispute the failure(s) to maintain retention standards which triggered the investigation or to submit mitigating/extenuating circumstances.
The cadet may challenge the IO [investigating officer] for cause by submitting a memorandum to the initiating commander stating reasons why the IO is biased or otherwise cannot act in an impartial manner in their case. The initiating commander considers the challenge in consultation with Holm Center/JA. Appoint a new IO if the challenge is justified. If not justified, the Detachment/CC prepares a memorandum explaining why the challenge is not justified, provides a copy to the cadet, and includes a copy in the disenrollment case file.
Upon receipt of the AFROTC Form 10, the IO must contact the cadet and arrange a time for the cadet to make a personal appearance before the IO. The personal appearance should occur within 10 days of the cadet's receipt of the AFROTC Form 10. The IO may grant an extension beyond 10 days, but should note and explain any such delay beyond 10 days in the ROI [report of the investigating officer].
- The Personal Appearance
You can make a statement and present witnesses and evidence under oath during the personal appearance. You can also present issues “relevant to a full and fair consideration of the disenrollment action without presenting direct evidence.” The investigating officer must consider and investigate these issues. You should submit anything you believe will be a determining issue in writing to the IO.
You may have a civilian attorney represent you at this appearance, but it isn't a formal hearing or trial, and the rules of evidence don't apply. That means you may present hearsay evidence, and so may your command. The school may also have a representative at the appearance if they request.
The IO can also locate and interview witnesses under oath and must investigate any facts you allege that aren't already in evidence. If you allege any sexual harassment or discrimination issues or any criminal issues arrive during the investigation, the IO may need to consult with the Judge Advocate.
- The Report of the Investigating Officer
The investigating office will complete a report at the conclusion of the investigation. Under Air Force policies:
The ROI is a factual summary of all evidence compiled by the IO during the investigation. All facts cited in the ROI will be supported by attached documentation. THE IO SHALL NOT INCLUDE ANY OPINIONS, CONCLUSIONS, OR RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE ROI. If a cadet desires EAD, the IO must include a memorandum signed by the cadet stating that desire.
Id. at § 184.108.40.206 (emphasis in original). You'll have ten calendar days after receiving the ROI to submit any further rebuttals or challenges. After concluding the investigation, your command will complete DD Form-785, which will explain why you were removed from the training program and make specific recommendations about further training.
Terms of Air Force ROTC Disenrollment
If your AFROTC command disenrolls you, your contract states the possible terms of your disenrollment, including:
All non-prior service AS100 cadets [first year of AFROTC] are released from their AFROTC contract as long as the scholarship was not obtained through fraudulent means (e.g., failing to disclose a civil involvement, drug use, or medical condition).
AS200 [second year of AFROTC] normally have their scholarship funds recouped. This includes scholarship monies expended during the AS100 year.
All POC [third or fourth year cadets prior to graduation] cadets are considered for call to active duty unless there is a moral or physical reason that would prevent them from serving in their enlisted grade.
EAD. If EAD [enlistment active duty] is the final decision, AFROTC/RRFD prepares and forwards a distribution package to AFPC. AFPC will normally bring a disenrolled cadet on active duty based on the cadet's contracted graduation date, unless the cadet has stopped attending school.
Id. at § 220.127.116.11-.4. The final decision regarding the terms of your disenrollment is left solely to the Air Force.
The Navy ROTC Contract
The Navy ROTC Scholarship Contract requires you to agree to serve eight years in the U.S. Navy and to meet certain obligations and standards under the contract, including:
- Be enrolled as a full-time student in, and remain in good standing with, the School, fulfilling all academic requirements
- (2) Continue to pursue a baccalaureate degree in the Tier and not change my major, the type of degree I am pursuing or my Tier without the express prior written consent of my PNS
- Enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserves or U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (the “Reserves”) as specified in Paragraph 5.b. of this Contract
- Remain qualified for military service as an officer, meeting all applicable requirements
- (5) Not be in a leave of absence (LOA) from, and remain in good standing with, the Unit, fulfilling all NROTC Program requirements, including those set forth in the Regulation; and
- Demonstrate active participation in the NROTC Program at the beginning of each Academic Term.
In return, the Navy will provide you with financial support, including:
- Tuition and Fees. The Navy will pay all tuition and fees charged by the School for courses I take and all mandatory fees (such as health, student activity, library and transcript fees) imposed by the School on all full-time undergraduate students, which I cannot refuse but am obligated to pay.
- Books. Each Academic Year, the Navy will pay me a book allowance in the amount then prescribed by the NROTC Program. For purposes of this Contract, “Academic Year” is defined as that period which begins on the first day the School's fall Academic Term and ends on the last day of the School's spring Academic Term, including the time during which I am taking required and scheduled end of term examinations.
- Monthly Subsistence Allowance. The Navy will pay me a monthly subsistence allowance. The amount of this allowance is prescribed by law and regulation and may change during the term of this Contract. I understand that I am not entitled to, and will not be paid a subsistence allowance for any period when I am on active duty, including but not limited to summer training and at-sea training, times when I will be receiving active duty pay.
- Training Pay and Travel Costs. The Navy will place me on active duty and pay me for participating in summer training or at-sea training at the rate established for U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen. I will be entitled to such pay from the day I arrive at the training site to the day I depart. I understand that I am not eligible for training pay while I am traveling to and from the training site. I also understand that my travel costs to and from the training site are payable by the Navy in accordance with applicable travel regulations.
- Uniforms. The Navy will pay for the military uniform items prescribed for NROTC Program midshipmen by the Navy Uniform Regulations or, if I am a Marine Corps Option Student, by the applicable Marine Corps Order. I understand that I will control and dispose of these items in accordance with the NROTC Program's Regulations for Officer Development, Naval Service Training Command Instruction 1533.2 as now issued and as amended from time to time (the “Regulation”). I understand that this Scholarship Benefit is limited to military uniforms only and that I am responsible for purchasing any other item of clothing required by my Tier or for any course of study.
Under the ROTC contract, the Navy will not pay for:
- Fees or costs incurred in connection with any aviation or flight training course, including but not limited to: flight hours; licensing; fuel; aircraft rental; ground instruction; and aircraft service, repair or maintenance. The Navy will not pay for any of the foregoing fees or costs whether they are charged separately or are incorporated into the tuition charged for the course;
- Any fees or tuition above or in addition to those normally charged that are for an elective course (such as horseback riding or skiing) not required to complete my degree requirements or to fulfill any NROTC Program requirements, unless my Unit's Professor of Naval Science (“PNS”) has determined in writing before I enroll in the course that taking the course would improve my understanding of a technical or scientific subject;
- Any fee that I incur because I withdrew from a course, or any course that I repeat because I initially failed the course, or any course from which I withdrew after a time when I could have received tuition credit or reimbursement, or any course that I am retaking in an effort to receive a better grade
- Refundable fees, such as deposits required to secure the use of an apparatus used in coursework;
- Charges I incur for breaking or damaging property;
- Fees assessed by the School for my failure to comply with any School requirement;
- Fees for advanced placement examinations, unless my Unit's PNS has determined in writing before I take such an examination, that I can thereby receive credit for courses required to complete my Tier that will enable me to receive my commission earlier than scheduled under this Contract, in which case the Navy will reimburse me for such fees; or
- Medical or dental insurance.
If you enter the advanced Navy ROTC program course without a scholarship, you will enter into a slightly different contract with the Navy as an upperclassman. As part of that contract, you will agree to enlist in the Navy for eight years. When you complete the contract requirements, including all the necessary military science courses, you agree to accept a commission as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps. If you fail to complete the contractual requirements, you could face Navy ROTC disenrollment, and the Secretary of the Navy may order you to serve up to two years active duty in enlisted status in the Navy.
Navy ROTC Disenrollment
As with the other branches of ROTC service, the Navy must follow its procedures and policies during the disenrollment process.
- Navy ROTC Disenrollment Procedures
If you face academic or disciplinary issues as a scholarship student, for minor problems, the Navy may issue a warning, then progress to probation, a leave of absence, and finally to disenrollment and termination of your scholarship. See NSTC M-1533.2C CH2 § 6-7.1-.3 (Jan 2019). The Navy uses a Performance Review Board (PRB) to make recommendations concerning NROTC disenrollment. Because a PRB protects a midshipman's rights, the NROTC program must call a PRB when:
- When a student, who is being placed on probation without a PRB, requests a PRB in writing within seven days of being notified of the probation;
- When administrative action may result in a leave of absence;
- For performance that may result in disenrollment or active service obligation by any midshipman who has signed a DD FORM 4 (Enlistment contract) and service agreement (NSTC 1533/127 or NSTC 1533/135);
- When an Executive Board (EB), Academic Review Board, Honor Board, or Superintendent's Review has been conducted at the USMMA and the OIC does not concur with the findings of the board;
- When a student tests positive for drugs and the CO has determined that the student abused drugs, as defined in OPNAVINST 5340.4 series. Drug abusers who are recommended for disenrollment shall not be recommended for AES;
- When a STA-21 OC receives a grade or cumulative GPA less than program requirements as defined in the applicable OPNAV N13 Program Authorization. As these are active duty students, the OC's presence at the PRB is mandatory; and
- When a MECEP fails to meet established standards as directed by MCRC. As these are active duty students, the OC's presence at the PRB is mandatory.
- Navy ROTC Performance Review Board
A PRB consists of at least three members, including two officers and a member of the academic institution. The PRB also has one non-voting member to act as the recorder. Navy policies also set forth procedures to ensure that the PRB members avoid conflicts of interest to protect the midshipman.
Within five days after convening the PRB, the recorder must:
- Notify the student with written notice of the date the PRB will convene and the reason for the board
- Give the student any documents that will appear at the PRB hearing, including any witness statements, counseling sheets, and a copy of the preliminary inquiry
- Provide the student with a list of witnesses that will appear at the PRB
- Have the student sign and date the notification letter
- Have the student sign a Privacy Act statement
- Rights Before the PRB
You have certain rights when appearing before the PRB, including:
- To appear before the board at your own expense
- To submit a written statement to the PRB
- To review your personnel record and all statement before the hearing
- To submit documents and witnesses on your behalf
The PRB must give you at least five days' notice of the PRB hearing in writing, and they must advise you of all the possible outcomes of the PRB. The Navy claims that a PRB is not a formal hearing and is akin to an informal college student disciplinary proceeding. However, you may have an attorney present at your expense if you give the PRB written notice at least 48 hours before the hearing.
At the hearing, your lawyer may make an opening and closing statement and recount the events as they understood they occurred. “Counsel may also explain why these events do not warrant any, or lesser, administrative action on the part of the Navy. However, counsel may not actively participate in the board's proceedings (e.g., call witnesses, ask questions of witnesses).” Your attorney can also object to specific board actions or proceedings, but the ruling of the senior member of the PRB is final.
After the hearing, the voting members will deliberate privately and then vote by secret ballot to avoid the appearance of undue command influence. A simple majority determines the outcome. After reaching a decision, the senior PRB member will reconvene the board and announce the board's findings of facts and recommendations.
The PRB will complete a report, including all documents considered by the board and a summary of the testimony of each witness. Any PRB member can also attach a dissenting opinion. The student will have five full days to submit a written response to the report. The student's Professor of Naval Science (PNS) will consider the packet in full and endorse it or fail to do so, and the student will have five days to respond to the PNS.
- Terms of Navy ROTC Disenrollment
The PRB can make the following recommendations:
- No action
- Issuance of a 30-day compliance letter to investigate medical concerns
- Leave of absence
“If the board recommends disenrollment, they shall also make a recommendation regarding AES [active enlistment service] or recoupment [of scholarship funds], if applicable.” The final determination regarding any Navy ROTC disenrollment is left to the sole discretion of the Secretary of the Navy.
Possible Consequences of ROTC Disenrollment
Under the terms of your ROTC contract, there are typically several options your branch of service can choose as the possible consequences for disenrollment, including:
- If disenrollment happens during your first year of ROTC and you aren't prior-enlisted, you will be released from your ROTC contract.
- If disenrollment happens during your first year of ROTC, the service branch will probably order you to repay your scholarship and other funds expended on your education.
- If disenrollment happens during your third or fourth year of ROTC after you've attended your Professional Officer Course, which typically happens between the second and third year of college, you may be ordered to a term of enlisted active duty unless there is a moral or physical reason why you can't serve.
- If ordered to active duty, your service branch may delay this until your expected college graduation date unless you've stopped attending school or withdrawn from college.
After disenrollment, the commander completes form DD-785, “Record of Disenrollment from Officer Candidate-Type Training.” The form is the same for disenrollment from all three ROTC programs. This form will include identifying information and information about the program. It will also include detailed “reasons and circumstances” for your disenrollment and a recommendation about whether the DoD should consider you for other officer training in the future. The form will recommend either:
- Highly recommend
- Recommend as an average candidate
- “Should not be considered without weighing ‘the needs of the service' against the reasons for disenrollment”
- “Recommend if physical defects are corrected or if such defects aren't disqualifying for another program”
- “Definitely not recommend”
Whether you can reenter another officer training program in the future will depend on this recommendation. If your goal is to enter the military as an officer eventually, this recommendation will be crucial for your future career. If you want a career in the military, whether you have an experienced student discipline attorney by your side in the ROTC disenrollment process can be the deciding factor.
You Need a Student Defense Attorney Experienced in ROTC Disciplinary Matters
If you or someone you love is facing possible disenrollment after a school disciplinary or academic matter, you need an experienced legal guide on your side. For ROTC students, a disenrollment hearing or adverse disciplinary finding can keep them from finishing school, make them repay a significant amount of money in scholarship funds, and force them to serve a term of active duty while enlisted. The disenrollment process isn't something any cadet should face alone. You need an experienced student disciplinary litigator with experience handling ROTC disciplinary matters and disenrollment hearings.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a highly-experienced student disciplinary defense attorney and has helped protect the rights of thousands of students across the country. Attorney Lento and his team have handled ROTC disenrollment matters and investigations at schools nationwide. Find out how Attorney Lento and his team can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule a consultation.