COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AFNS) --
Air Force senior leaders introduced the Charles McGee Leadership Award to provide tuition or housing assistance to all Air Force ROTC cadets that demonstrate the ability and intent to commission into the Air Force and Space Force during a ceremony held Jan. 27 at the University of Maryland.
The CMLA is a 2-year scholarship to help relieve financial burdens and allow all qualified cadets to focus on their academic and leadership development. Eligible cadets are granted a two-year tuition award of $18,000 per year, or this can be converted to a housing benefit of up to $10,000 per year.
This scholarship will be available to all cadets who have successfully completed field training and entered the Professional Officer Course upon the start of their junior year of college.
“ROTC programs play a vital role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “At the University of Maryland, we are proud to offer a robust ROTC program that develops our students into well-rounded individuals who go on to serve their country and communities with distinction. Expanding scholarships for cadets is a key aspect of this, as it allows them to focus on their education and development without the added stress of financial burden. This investment in ROTC is an investment into the future of our nation.”
Named after Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, a fighter pilot and Tuskegee Airman during World War II, CMLA marks a significant change in how scholarships are awarded and represents a valuable tool for AFROTC leadership to grant financial assistance to qualified cadets who had not previously received a scholarship upon entry into the program.
Historically, only approximately 40% of AFROTC cadets within the program were on some form of AFROTC scholarship. In addition, over 95% were awarded to promising high school seniors with the remainder allocated to in-college freshmen and sophomore cadets. There were virtually no opportunities for cadets to obtain a scholarship after the sophomore year.
With CMLA, now 100% of all qualified cadets in their junior and senior years will be eligible for this scholarship.
“Financial stress is one of the leading reasons that prevent otherwise driven and committed cadets from commissioning, so, for those cadets and prospective cadets, it is no longer a question of if you will get financial help through a high school or in-college scholarship—the Charles McGee Leadership Awards makes it a matter of when you receive a scholarship," said Col. Corey Ramsby, AFROTC commander. “We want cadets to focus the remainder of their time in AFROTC on development of their leadership acumen and academic course of study, rather than financial barriers.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. attended the ceremony, along with members of McGee’s family, to mark this barrier-breaking change for countless AFROTC cadets to come.
“Gen. McGee and the Tuskegee Airmen are my personal heroes, and the creation of the Charles McGee Leadership Award ensures their legacy lives on,” Brown said.
“Through hard work and dedication, the Tuskegee Airmen gained a reputation as some of the fiercest fighters in American history, and proved, if given the opportunity, they could reach their full potential,” he explained. “The CMLA is one way we can support those who demonstrate talent and desire to serve on their path to careers in the Air or Space Force.”
The general requirements and key details of the CMLA:
- Cadets must meet basic academic, physical, and medical requirements of the Air Force ROTC program
- Cadets must complete field training. Exception: CMLA recipients with an approved Field Training deferment may activate the CMLA if all other activation criteria are met.
- Cadets must be selected to enter the Professional Officer Course, typically those entering the junior year or those with two or fewer academic years of college remaining.
- The CMLA awards up to $18,000 per year per cadet for tuition.
- CMLA may be converted to a housing benefit of up to $10,000 per year for two years.
- CMLA award recipients have until Dec. 31 of the fall activation term immediately following award to meet activation requirements. Failure to activate the CMLA by that date, without an approved exception to policy, will result in withdrawal of the CMLA for the remainder of the recipient’s POC years.
- This award is not tied to a particular academic major, but it can only be used for undergraduate degrees. The CMLA cannot be used to fund master’s degrees or master's credit hours.
- The CMLA currently cannot be extended beyond two years regardless of degree plan or major.
For more information, visit the CMLA frequently asked questions here.