NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Army Plans To Court College-Bound And Dropouts

February 4, 2000

Hard pressed to sign up sufficient numbers of recruits in today's booming economy, the U.S. Army has announced a two-pronged program to attract those on their way to college and those who never finished high school.

  • It will open as many as 4,000 active duty and 2,000 reserve slots to dropouts who agree to earn a general equivalency degree.
  • One important goal of this program is to attract Hispanic youths, who drop out of school at higher rates than other groups.
  • The college-bound would enlist, attend up to two years of college and then enter the service -- for which they would receive a $150 a month stipend while in school and have access, while serving, to the Army's college loan program to pay off tuition debts.
  • Until now, recruits had to serve first before becoming eligible to receive money for college.

But some experts contend that larger percentages of medical students and others who agree to serve in exchange for tuition assistance fail to honor their commitments.

The new program would raise from 10 percent to 15 percent the proportion of dropouts admitted to the active duty force. Skeptics also warn that most dropouts don't make it through their first enlistment. A high-school diploma indicates an individual's ability to persevere, they argue.

Source: Andrea Stone, "Army Opens More to School Dropouts," USA Today, February 4, 2000.


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