The National Guard SMP Simultaneous Membership Program

The National Guard SMP Program is a program for R.O.T.C Cadets who are willing to serve in the National Guard while they are a college student.  It’s basically a two-year program where you serve simultaneously in the National Guard and R.O.T.C.  Normally it’s reserved for Cadets in their Junior and Senior year of college.

To qualify for the program, you must have prior Active Duty experience (completed Basic Training and AIT) and you must be a member of the National Guard.  Obviously, most Cadets won’t qualify for this program, but a few will.

As a member of the SMP Program you may be entitled to the following benefits:

  • State and Federal Tuition Assistance
  • The Montgomery GI Bill and GI Bill Kicker
  • Drill Pay as an E-5
  • R.O.T.C. stipend of $350 to $500 per month

When you attend your National Guard training once a month you will normally serve as an Assistant Platoon Leader.  Typically, you will work closely with the Platoon Leader while they mentor and train you.  If there are unit personnel shortages, you might even serve as  Platoon Leader or Company XO.

When you graduate college and earn your commission, you normally have a choice to serve on Active Duty or in the National Guard/Army Reserves.  It really depends upon what your contract says.

My Story

I was part of the National Guard SMP Program while I was a R.O.T.C. Cadet at Clarkson University in upstate New York from 1999-2000.  I spent 1.5 years in college (entered as a second semester Junior) and served with the New York Army National Guard during that time.  I was a full time student and did National Guard training one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

I got to serve in an Infantry unit (2/108th Infantry) and really had a great experience.  I spent some time as a Platoon Leader and Company XO.  I was paid as an E-5 and learned a lot about leadership.

What I liked most about the program was that I earned a nice income and got some real world military and leadership experience prior to earning my commission.  Between my stipend and drill pay and GI Bill I had an EXCELLENT income and could afford to do a lot of fun things while in college.  Add in the military and leadership experience and it was a one-two combination!

I would HIGHLY suggest the National Guard SMP Program to anyone who qualifies.  It is a great way to get a cutting edge over your peers who don’t qualify for the program.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program is designed for R.O.T.C. Cadets with prior military experience, who are willing to serve in the National Guard WHILE they are enrolled in college.  The program is by no means perfect, but it is a GREAT deal for anyone looking for some extra spending cash and some real world military experience, while they are still a student.

I’d love to hear what you think.  If you participated in the National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program, I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below to share your story.

***** I should also note that this program is also for the Army Reserves, not just the National Guard.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “The National Guard SMP Simultaneous Membership Program”

  1. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who were or are still part of this program and enjoy its benefits immensely and speak very highly of their experiences. And, surprisingly, the benefits they spoke of were rarely financial. It was the people they met, the things they did, and the lessons they learned that they felt benefited them most. Certainly, money plays a factor in deciding to take part in the National Guard SMP, but it’s important to remember the benefits are don’t stop there.

  2. Although I was familiar with the R.O.T.C. program I was unfamiliar with this particular wrinkle in the program. It sounds like an excellent program for those who qualify and I'll be sure to pass this information along to our career adviser and the recruiters I know.

  3. Hello everyone,I commissioned through an SMP program, and I would like to share my experience.I found out about this program after my Sophomore year in College.In my case, I had credit card debts that I really wanted to take care of before getting married. By that said, I joined the ARNG and went to the Infantry Basic Training at Fort Benning, where I made E-3 pay for about 15 weeks. When I returned, I went straight to the Army ROTC Office, which I had pre-arranged to visit upon my return from Basic. Then, I signed a contract as an SMP Cadet. As Chuck had mentioned, there were many benefits as an SMP Cadet. Here are some of the followings:1. Experience. Although not everyone gets lucky to shadow an Officer, you will start putting time towards your retirement while your ROTC peers do not. Most of the Guard Units will provide you with great training as well!2. Pay: No one can deny that money is a big factor in making a decision. Chuck mentioned most of the pay benefits, but if I were to add, there is a GRFD & Dedicated Scholarship for SMP Cadets that decide to stay in the Reserve Component. Although the fund is limited, both scholarships offer either full tuition or full R&B or up to ,000/year if you choose to live off campus. You also get around 0 a semester for your books with these scholarships. The only difference between GRFD & Dedicated is that GRFD is up to two years combined with GI BILL and Dedicated is up to three years but eliminates your GI BILL. By that said, if you are a Junior, take the GRFD like I did, and if you are Sophomore, take the Dedicated Scholarship if you know you want to serve in the Reserve Component after you commission.I also was privileged with the ARNG Scholarship (95/semester) my school had offered as well as the VA State Tuition Assistance (00/Semester) and the Federal Tuition Assistance (00/semester) for being in the ARNG at the time. Plus, I got a drill pay as an E-5 as well as the ROTC Stipend. Although I was attending a Private University, I did not have to pay a dime which was fabulous. Also, I was able to pay off all my Credit card bills and got married during my Senior Year. Until this day, I have never regretted taking this route.If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this message. Thank you.

    1. Hi Israel kim , I’m currently on my sophomore year in college I’m about to get my associate. …and I’m planning to transfer to a 4 year school with a ROTC program …my question is ….do I have to be in the national guard prior joining the ROTC program ?

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