Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > I Was Disenrolled From ROTC Scholarship and Now Military Wants The Tuition Money Back. – Jas

I Was Disenrolled From ROTC Scholarship and Now Military Wants The Tuition Money Back. – Jas

“Dear Steve,

I accepted an ROTC scholarship with the army in the fall of 2010. I have recieved the scholarship up until the spring of 2012, of which they did hint at my inability to adapt, but they did not pay for the semester’s tuition, did not inform me that they were not going too, and changed my evaluation from an S to an N at our primary evaluations. Now they justify my disenrollment by ‘military inaptitude, and general lack of adaptibility, lack of hardiness.’ I feel this is unfair and i am left with a debt of 41,000 to repay the federal gov. I have never gotten into trouble, act inappropraitely, and always maintained a 3.0 higher gpa.

My question is how does the military expect me to repay 41,000 after disenrolling me from the ROTC program? does anyone how this works in terms of installments?


Dear Jas,

Are they only asking for the money back or do you still have a military service commitment to fulfill as well?

According to publication AR-145-1 cadets can be disenrolled for a number of reasons. One is listed as:

(13) Inaptitude for military service as demonstrated by lack of general adaptability, skill, hardiness, ability to learn, or leadership abilities.

Here is what the manual says your options are:

“A board of officers will be appointed by the PMS, the brigade commander, or the region commander according to the formal procedures outlined in AR 15–6, as modified by this regulation (see AR 15–6, para 1–1) and guidance from the CG, ROTCCC, to consider the case of each cadet considered for disenrollment under subparagraph a (13) through (16) above, or when deemed necessary. Additionally, in cases where a board of officers is not appointed, the PMS will appoint an investigating officer to inquire into the case of any scholarship or advanced course cadet being considered for disenrollment, to include voluntary disenrollment or disenrollment to join another officer procurement program. Disenrollment for medical reasons will be referred to CG, ROTCCC for review and approval. The appointing authority will determine whether the formal or informal procedures of AR 15–6 will be used. However, in every case, the student concerned has the right to appear personally before the board or officer conducting the investigation. The cadet is entitled to be assisted in the preparation of the hearing by any reasonable available military officer (who need not be an attorney) or may hire civilian counsel at his or her own expense. However, the counsel may not represent the cadet at the hearing, although counsel may be available to give advice. At least one school official will be permitted to observe any hearings that may arise from the appointment of such board or investigation. Notwithstanding any provision of AR 15–6, cadets who are the subject of disenrollment are not entitled to counsel at Government expense. The requirement for appointment of a board of officers or investigating officers is waived if the student subject to disenrollment action voluntarily waives in writing) his or her right to such board review within 10 days of notification of pending disenrollment.

Cadets undergoing board or investigative action will be placed on LOA when the cadet is notified of the board of investigative hearing which will suspend tuition and subsistence payments pending outcome of the board or investigation. The ROTC contract will be annotated to show the date and reason for disenrollment or discharge.

A cadet disenrolled under b above will not be authorized to participate in ROTC training as a conditional student or permitted to audit the course, unless school policy authorizes such participation.

A cadet who is involuntarily ordered to active duty for breach of his or her contract will be so ordered within 60 days after they would normally complete baccalaureate degree requirements, provided the cadet continues to pursue a baccalaureate degree at the school where they are enrolled in the ROTC or the school where the cadet has agreed to pursue such degree, if the school where he or she is enrolled does not offer that degree. If not academically enrolled, the cadet will be ordered to active duty 60 days from date of notification of active duty. Graduate students may not be ordered to active duty until they complete the academic year in which they are enrolled, or disenroll from the school, whichever occurs first.” – Source

Others have faced the same fate and have been required to repay the government for the tuition benefit they received. I assume the point of view is the government advanced money on behalf of the student and is now not going to get the benefit of that investment so they want the cash back and you can pursue and finish your degree.

I would strongly advise you to talk to the ROTC representatives and exhaust all appeal processes you may have available immediately to get back into ROTC and avoid this massive tuition bill which will only grow.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


Big Hug!

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Will Allen

    Dear Steve,

    I was enrolled in Army ROTC from 2007-2011. I had a false statement filed against me and was given one of two options. Serve 4 years active duty starting out as an E-1, or fight it with a formal board. I fought it and just recently have exhausted all my appeals. Several cadre members had even made statements pertaining to how the process was stacked against me from the beginning. I involved a state Senator and Congresswoman who both opened congressional inquiries. Still to no avail.

    The ABCMR (Army Board of Correction for Military Records) has now ordered me to repay the amount of nearly $136k for my tuition assistance at a rate of $3.8k a month to DFAS…

    In my ROTC contract, it states that bankruptcy is not an option for debt forgiveness.

    What are my options… If any…?

    I went to school to become a pilot… And sadly starting pay for a pilot these days is only $17-25k a year after you accumulate 1,000 flight hours… Which makes repaying this debt nearly impossible…

    • Josh D

      I’m interested in knowing if anyone had an answer to this question. I am in nearly the exact situation.

    • Kaitlyn Koski

      Hi, I see no one responded to your question. Was there ever a solution?

    • Josh Lundy

      I am currently in this situation with the slight difference that I did receive a commission and am now being discharged. As far as bankruptcy goes, this debt will not be discharged. If you cannot afford a monthly installment plan that is offered to you, a chapter 13 bankruptcy can ultimately reduce the debt to an affordable amount based on income, which will be paid each month up to 5 years.

      There are only 2 ways to get your debt discharged. 1)The secretary of the army (or whichever component) deems your discharge as for the benefit of the national defense. 2)Through chapter 7 bankruptcy, no later than 5 years after the potential active duty service commitment was scheduled to end. Basically, a bankruptcy will only clear this debt if you are still paying 6-9 years after your removal from the program (depending on which year of the ROTC program you were in).

  • Debt is Coming

    Dear Steve,
    My fiance’s officer commission to ROTC was revoked upon his graduation from college May 2010.
    A case was opened on his behalf for about 2 and half years until his appeal and the decision was made for him to pay back the $65k. He was able to defer payments up until now due to his enrollment in Graduate school. After he graduates, the contract debt bill will start coming. Is there anyway to minimize the bill payments from $1k plus per month or even reopen the case where this decision was made in 2012?

    Thanks for your advice!

  • ozzyhawk

    I am trying to get my records from my unit and the human resources rep won’t send me the complete document (he sent one page). I believe that this will help me in discharging my debt. Does anyone know how I can go about getting these records?

    • Josh Lundy

      There is a website that you should be able to access from a link on AKO. It should be an site that you can use to verify records (or print them). I have only seen it used by my battalion S1 shop, but it had every document that has been scanned by the army since I signed for enlistment.

  • Virg

    Hello, I completed AFROTC 2 years ago, and was set to commission into the AF with a rated slot. I decided to leave to pursue medical school. I breached my contract, but a recommendation from my commander requested for them to just let me go, without enlisting (for 2 years). I was never on scholarship and had only a year’s worth of reserve pay stipend (about $500/mo).

    I’m now in med school and I just received a memo saying I’m being called to involuntary active duty for 2 years as an E3. I disenrolled 2 years ago, stating I want to go to medical school. I’m 28 years old, and can’t afford to put my education and future profession on hold any longer. I currently have an appeal with AFPC (Air Force Personnel Command).

    My question is.. with the military cutting back (and I know the AF is “force-shaping” and looking for reasons to kick out officers/enlisted alike).. will they be adamant about forcing me to enlist even if so many actually want to be in but can’t, and then there’s me, who’s fighting to just stay my current course.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

    Read more: http://enlist.military.com/107/troop-reduction-affects-enlistment/#ixzz2I1z963rT

    • All I can offer are two insights after having done the past research on similar articles.

      1. The military is like a large corporation. It’s not about logic. It’s about process.

      2. I was impressed with the thought process that went on in the number of written appeals I reviewed. It seemed at the appeal process they were very fair.

      It might not hurt to contact your Senators office and get them in the loop.

    • ozzyhawk again


      I think at the very least they would be willing to put your enlistment off until you are done with medical school. The other thing is that you should have had the option of agreeing to pay the money back.

      I can’t emphasize this enough GET A LAWYER!!! Preferably one that specializes in military issues. At least get legal advise in how to pursue your appeal (most universities have free legal centers). If I had I would not owe over 30K. I didn’t even take the free military council. What an idiot I am.

  • Derek

    I am in a situation similar to the above, only I must disenroll for various personal reasons. I am in my MSIII year, and the Army has paid for freshman, sophomore, and this first half of junior year. When disenrolled, to pay the army back monetarily, will I have to pay the whole sum back at once, or will it work like loans? Thanks

  • Ozzyhawk

    If you believe they have no evidence to support the decision to disenroll you, I would challenge on those grounds (perhaps argue that there was a personal bias against you?). I would also strongly recommend hiring counsel. I went through this and wish I had done it differently. I’m trying to appeal now.

    I would appreciate any feedback on what I’ve said…I’m not any sort of legal expert.

  • John

    While I was in school, a midshipmen had a similar problem. He no longer wanted to take his commission after a few years of ROTC. To pay off the debt, you do have the option of paying uncle sam back (with the installment program you mentioned) or you can enlist for a period of time (2 years i believe). 

    By enlisting, you’ll have the option of differing your loans for three years, then when you get out, veteran programs exist to help pay off loans (not to mention the GI bill).  You’ll spend a quarter of that time in training, plus you’ll go in with a higher rank and a better MOS because of your college degree. It also looks great on resumes and you can go back to school with the GI bill.

    good luck!

  • Glenn

    Dear Steve,

    I am in a very similar situation as this review you gave.

    I was wondering if I can’t pay them back, will filing bankruptcy be a good idea for me and can I get a “fresh start” from this?

    Thank you


    • The problem is that you may owe the government and they may not consider that as a dischargeable debt. However, the only way to get a definitive answer is going to be for you to contact a local bankruptcy attorney and ask.

    • Anonymous Layperson

      As long as the government prohibits the discharge of student loans, it will likely be extremely difficult if it is possible at all. Search google and you’ll see several students (rotc and other “advance tuition” scholarship participants) who did not complete a program for one reason or another and were unable to discharge the debt. It says on the DFAS website that education debts are NOT dischargeable in the first 5 years after the date of dissenrollment. See Udell v. U.S. , and that judge ruled that after the 5 years he thought the “intent” of the law was to treat these debts no different than regular student loans. He did not allow the discharge of the debt simply because it was more than 5 years old. You need to agree to a payment plan immediately even if you are still in school. Offer barely anything. If you go without paying even while in school they will tack on penalties on top of the interest.

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