College sophomores on the fence about joining the Army may have 5,000 more reasons to do so.

For the first time, the Army is offering a $5,000 bonus to sophomores who join Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC.

The bonus is intended for sophomores as lateral entry cadets who only have two years of school left, Lt. Col. Chris Belcher, a U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman, told Army Times.

It’s also aimed at enticing potential cadets who haven’t received a scholarship through ROTC, he said.

Students who are interested must join ROTC before basic camp begins this summer.

“If they don’t accept [the offer] in time to be registered for basic camp, they won’t be able to accept [the bonus],” Belcher said.

The Fort Knox, Kentucky-based camp is a monthlong introduction to the Army and leadership training for students who want to complete ROTC in two years instead of four.

Cadets will receive the $5,000 bonus after they’ve completed basic camp and signed an ROTC contract, Belcher said.

“This is the first time we’ve ever offered a bonus for basic camp,” he said. “With the Army increasing its end strength, we also have to increase the number of officers in the Army, so this is a way to let us meet the mission of going from about 5,400 officers a year to 6,000 commissions in 2020.”

The bonus isn’t available to students already in ROTC or in the Army, he said.

“This is intended for someone who’s a college sophomore who hasn’t decided what they want to do and might be thinking that the Army is a possible career,” Belcher said. “It’s a possible incentive for them to go to basic camp and contract as a cadet with a career in two years when you graduate from college.”

Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at

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