U.S. Army ROTC Simultaneous Membership Program

Commissioning Program for Army ROTC, Reservists, National Guard

Army JROTC marching at Christmas parade in Johnson City, Tennessee
••• Joel Carillet / Getty Images

The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) allows people to be a part of both the Army National Guard and their college’s ROTC program. The immediate benefits are being able to use the tuition assistance of the GI Bill after a year of service in the Guard or Reserves. Qualifying for up to 100% tuition with the Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) scholarship is the major financial benefit of this program.

Eligibility Requirements for the SMP

"Simultaneous" in the SMP is defined by the following requirements:

  • Full-time college student (sophomore, junior, senior, or grad student)
  • Serving (or willing to enlist) in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard
  • Enrolled in Army ROTC at the college of attendance

How SMP Works

In the SMP, a cadet will participate in monthly unit training with the Reserves or National Guard one weekend a month and get paid to drill once a month with their Guard unit. Cadets do have to attend Army Basic Combat Training and join the Guard or Reserves. Then they must be eligible for the ROTC program at the college they attend or plan to attend. Many ROTC students join the ROTC program as a non-contracted cadet, meaning they must pay for their college tuition.

Depending upon performance and eligibility, students may earn a slot as a contracted cadet—receiving an ROTC scholarship and a commitment of service after graduation. Only ROTC-contracted cadets may participate in the Simultaneous Membership Program. However, those receiving an ROTC scholarship cannot join the SMP.

If you join the SMP two-year training course, you'll be receiving training from the National Guard unit officers, while earning your commission through college courses and ROTC. Upon college graduation, you have several options that most ROTC, Officer Candidate School, and Academy graduates do not have. You can still become commissioned as an officer in the Army. However, you also have the option of serving full-time or part-time in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard.  

Benefits of Simultaneous Membership Program

Participation in SMP allows you to:

  • Receive basic soldier skills in Basic Combat Training (BCT) and job skills through Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
  • Receive up to 100% tuition assistance, depending on Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)
  • Receive time-served credit toward reserve retirement and base pay calculations
  • Receive a monthly allowance, depending upon rank/grade
  • Commission as a second lieutenant upon graduation and be eligible to serve in either the National Guard or active Army

Two Ways of Joining the SMP

If you already serve in the Army Reserves (AR) or National Guard (NG) as an enlisted soldier, your benefits already include tuition assistance, 100 percent tuition waiver (NG only), GI Bill ($300+ per month, if MOS qualified), and drill pay. Joining ROTC adds more benefits:

  • Drill pay increase to Sergeant (E-5) rate
  • ROTC stipend ($350-$500 per month)
  • GI Bill Kicker ($350 per month) for being in ROTC
  • Non-deployable status—No deployment since you are enrolled in college
  • Officer training in your National Guard/Reserve Unit when performing your required drill

You need to complete one year of college before applying for the SMP, making you eligible at the beginning of the sophomore year. However, a freshman can still enroll in ROTC classes and drill with the National Guard unit, but will not be formally in the SMP. If you are a sophomore or higher and currently enlisted, you must enroll in the SMP to enroll in ROTC. Prospective cadets with prior military experience may simply be assigned to a unit. 

Civilian High School Graduates

If you are a civilian, you get to attend Army Basic Training and become a soldier in the National Guard after Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) during the summer (typically between high school graduation and freshman year). New Basic Training graduates are assigned to a local National Guard or Reserve unit upon completion of training.

Upon commissioning, any enlistment contract is nullified, and you may start your career as an Army officer and serve either full-time on Active Duty, or part-time as an officer in the Army Reserves or National Guard. You are not limited to any particular MOS because of your former training, nor are you locked into or out of any commissioning options.

Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty

If you have desires to serve in the Army Reserves or National Guard, there is a GFRD contract that means you will receive a Reserve Commissioning and not go Active Duty.

All cadets at the end of their junior year can request Active Duty (career MOS), Army Reserves, or National Guard. Also, to differentiate the SMP from other commissioning sources, participation in the SMP is not required for GRFD contracting.

Required Documentation

Those who contract and become SMP participants must complete selected ROTC Cadet Forms of the command/college you attend as well as the standard AR/NG forms. 

The following forms are also necessary for SMP participation:

  • DA Form 4824-R (SMP agreement between Cadet Command and Army Reserves units)
  • Or NGB Form 594-1 (SMP agreement between Cadet Command and Army Reserves units)
  • Copy of DD Form 214
  • Letter of Recommendation from National Guard or Reserve Unit Commander
  • Verification of citizenship
  • Successful medical exam (SF 88 and SF 93)
  • Letter of acceptance from the professor of Military Science

If you missed the opportunity to receive an ROTC scholarship or Service Academy Appointment, this program offers the same benefits toward tuition and more.