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New OMVA scholarship to help cover room and board costs for ROTC students

| Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (OMVA) established a scholarship this year that will help cover the cost of room and board for Notre Dame ROTC students.

Titled the Theodore M. Hesburgh ROTC Endowment of Excellence scholarship, the first award will likely be gifted in the next two or three years, Regan Jones, director of the OMVA, said. 

“This is one of the many pieces to the overall comprehensive military veteran strategy at the University,” Jones said. “[The OMVA has] been in business a year but we’re making great progress and really excited about the opportunities to support these students and to grow these populations on campus.”

Jones said the scholarship, which was created with the help of a number of benefactors, represents an investment in ROTC students and ensures Notre Dame is attracting the nation’s top ROTC talent.

“It’s not large enough to cover the cost of room and board for all ROTC students, so that’s the goal,” Jones said. “But it was an intermediate and an initial and an important first step to rally support from our alumni, families, students and friends to also give in support of this particular endowment to ensure the future of our ROTC program and students.”

The scholarship will be awarded to ROTC participants who demonstrate exceptional performance in academic achievement, financial need, character and leadership qualities, Jones said. Incoming students will be eligible to apply for it through the normal financial aid process.

“There may be incremental steps that include getting scholarships out to a small number of students initially based on the criteria I listed [or] it may include giving a percentage of the room and board cost to all students,” Jones said. “Eventually, absolutely it’d be our goal to have room and board covered for [all of] our ROTC students.”

The federal government allots a number of ROTC scholarships to Notre Dame annually, but those only cover the cost of tuition and fees and not all of the allotted scholarships are utilized, Jones said.

“What we’ve seen happen in recent years is that we’re not as a University maximizing the number of ROTC scholarships at Notre Dame,” Jones said. “And so as a result of that, we work closely with a number of campus partners and we’ve had great success with University donors that are rallying to support a scholarship for room and board for our ROTC students.”

At Notre Dame, room and board costs an average of $15,410 per year, according to the Office of Financial Aid website. Junior Sammie Escamilla, an operations assistant at the OMVA, said the goal of the scholarship is to ease the financial burden of many ROTC students who acquire an average of up to $30,000 in student debt due to room and board expenses.

“The cost of room and board here at Notre Dame is over $14,000 dollars which is not a little amount at all,” Escamilla said. “So if we’re able to help even one person who wants to come to Notre Dame to fulfill their Notre Dame education with this scholarship while they’re doing ROTC, I think it’s great because we’re setting up the service members … with a great future.”

The Notre Dame Trident Naval Society (TNS) was one of the donors that made the endowment possible, Escamilla said, by donating over $3,000.

Junior and president of TNS Michael Terranova said in an email that $2,000 of the $3,430 donated from TNS came from the organization’s own funds, while the rest came from money raised on Notre Dame Day. The donations were meant to help “as many cadets and midshipmen as possible,” Terranova said.

This is extremely important to many members of ROTC, because even though some of us are on scholarship from our respective military branches, room and board still presents a sizable financial burden,” he said. “As the endowment grows over the next couple of years, the scholarship will have a very positive impact on many cadets and midshipmen as it will lift some of this burden.”

Jones said donors like TNS who contributed to the endowment are helping prolong the legacy of former University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, who was a “champion of supporting ROTC and the military.” The scholarship, named after Fr. Hesburgh, will be built to last and ensure the future of the ROTC program forever, Jones said.

“It was that generous donor and the creation of this endowment that inspired our ROTC students who decided to donate their money they raised around ND Day to actually go toward this endowment,” Jones said. “… They know this is a gift that won’t support them, but what they’re investing in is the future of the ROTC program at Notre Dame.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she serves as Associate News Editor at the Observer and is pursuing a double major in political science and television with minors in journalism and computing.

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