ARLINGTON, Va. - Army National Guard members taking part in ROTC are eligible to receive a scholarship covering tuition costs and other education expenses.

Now in its fifth year, the Army National Guard ROTC Minuteman Scholarship includes full tuition and fees, $1,200 a year for books and a $420 per month stipend for 10 months of the year. The scholarship can cover up to four years of schooling.

An applicant must be a member of the Army Guard as an officer trainee and be enrolled in an Army ROTC program.

"The cadet will be required to enlist as an officer trainee and simultaneously drill with an Army Guard unit as a cadet until completion of commissioning requirements," said Army Maj. Anthony Thomas, the Army Guard program operations officer with U.S. Army Cadet Command.

The first step in applying for the scholarship is to contact the recruiting operations officer in the cadet's ROTC command, said Thomas. The recruiting officer helps the cadet prepare an application package to compete for the scholarship.

Part of that application process includes obtaining a nomination from the cadet's adjutant general or a regional civilian aide to the secretary of the Army (CASA).

"As a good practice, use both [adjutant general] and CASA nominations," said Thomas, adding that each adjutant general has eight nominations per year while CASAs have four.

"Both are practical, but the [adjutant general] is obviously easier to secure," said Thomas.

CASAs, Thomas noted, can use their nomination slots for either the Minuteman Scholarship or a similar Army Reserve program, while adjutants general are limited to the Army Guard.

From there, application packets are reviewed by Cadet Command for final selection.

"Even if the candidate is nominated, this does not mean that they will get a scholarship," said Thomas, who advised that "a propensity to serve" is one of the qualities the selection board looks for in a cadet.

"Additionally, they look for student-athlete-leader attributes that transfer to quality officers," he said.

Unlike other ROTC scholarship programs, however, the Minuteman Scholarship allows cadets to combine their scholarship benefits with many other tuition assistance programs -- such as state tuition assistance -- they may be eligible to receive.

These additional benefits are often used by cadets to pay for room, board and other expenses while applying their scholarship to tuition and fees, said Thomas.

"Only the [Minuteman Scholarship] has the ability to stack benefits like this in Army ROTC," said Thomas.

Because recipients of the Minuteman Scholarship have already enlisted, they receive standard pay and allowances and are eligible for Tricare Reserve Select health insurance and retirement programs such as the Thrift Savings Plan, said Thomas.

Additionally, an earlier military entry date may also help with promotions and opportunities with time-in-service requirements.

"This may provide the cadet with as much as four years time-in-service while serving as a cadet," said Thomas.

While the scholarship offers many benefits, few have applied for it in recent years, said Thomas.

"Last year 154 [adjutant general] nominations and 291 CASA nominations went unutilized," he said. "Many of the three-year and below [Minuteman Scholarships] were left on the table."

Thomas said he'd like to see more cadets take advantage of those open nominations.

"This allows the Army National Guard to recruit highly-sought-after recruits," he said, adding that it also assists those trying to determine how to pay for college.

That ties into the Army Guard's larger role within the Army.

"This requires top-notch officers who want to serve in the Army National Guard and enjoy the benefits of serving their country while working in their local community," said Thomas.

For more information on the Minuteman Scholarship, interested individuals should talk with their local officer strength management office or visit www.cadetcommand.army.mil/arng.aspx.