Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson stuck to his story about being offered a scholarship to West Point after a Politico article blasted him for "fabricating" the account.
Carson has highlighted the offer to the prestigious military academy — allegedly made by Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969 when Carson was a ROTC student leader in Detroit — in his books and comments throughout the years. But Carson never applied to West Point nor does Westmoreland’s schedule place him in Detroit at the time Carson said he was, according to Politico.
What’s more, there’s no such thing as a "full scholarship" to West Point, as everyone accepted to the five federal service academies receives free tuition in exchange for their service. When asked about discrepancy on ABC’s This Week by host George Stephanopoulos, Carson said the academy itself uses the terminology.
"Wait a minute George, go look on the West Point website, and you’ll see those specific words, ‘full scholarship to West Point,’ " Carson said Nov. 8. "So even though it is, you know, given as a grant for anybody who gets in, those words are used. And if a recruiter or somebody who’s trying to get you to come there or trying to get you to do that, those are the very words they will use. It’s on their website."
We wondered if the words really are advertised on West Point’s website.
We could not reach the military academy. Searching for the "specific words ‘full scholarship to West Point’" turned up no results on West Point’s own website or on Google.
The official admissions page also makes no mention of a scholarship of any kind. Instead, it simply notes that tuition, room and board, and expenses are fully paid for those who are selected to attend West Point. The academy’s diversity page, however, states that "this four-year college experience is a fully funded scholarship."
Carson’s spokesperson told us that West Point has referred to their benefits as a full scholarship in publications, a point Carson made in a Nov. 8 Facebook post. He uploaded two West Point recruitment ads targeted at African-Americans that contain the word "scholarship," including one from the 1960s, when he was a student.
We also found examples of the words "full scholarship" used in publications that are linked on West Point’s website, as well as some old recruiting advertisements:
• A dataset from 2014: "At the United States Military Academy all students receive a full scholarship, including room & board and medical- and dental-care are provided by the U.S. Army."
• A prospectus from 2012: "As a cadet, you are a member of the U.S. Army and receive a full scholarship and an annual salary of more than $10,000 from which you pay for your uniforms, textbooks, a laptop computer, and incidents."
• An ad in a 1991 issue of Black Enterprise magazine: "Each year about 1,400 young men and women take advantage of the opportunity to attend West Point on a full government scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board and medical care.
• An ad that appeared in a fewissues of Ebony magazine in 1990: "You receive a full scholarship, earn a degree from one of the country’s finest colleges, and build a foundation for a challenging career of service to the nation."
The financial benefits to attending military academies have been essentially described as scholarship-like or equivalent to a scholarship byUSA Today, a West Point spokesperson in Forbes, and the Naval Academy.
But the term "full scholarship" is an inaccurate description, experts told us. The phrase typically refers to a college providing financial aid to allow a candidate to attend a college free of charge, but that doesn’t really apply to West Point’s across-the-board zero-tuition policy, said Antonio Buehler, a West Point alumnus who founded the admissions coaching service Abrome.
"No such scholarship is named, every cadet is treated the same and there is an eight-year military commitment after graduation. Hence, not free," Buehler said.
The proper terminology is "appointment," said Vu Tran, a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy who runs the Denver-based admissions consulting firm Service Academy Coach. But because that’s not apparent from the get-go, Tran says he can’t fault Carson for using the term loosely, albeit incorrectly.
"I can definitely see where parents and students who are beginning the process can misconstrue it to be a scholarship," he said. "But for those who have gone through the admission process and through the nomination process, they would never call it a scholarship."
Carson’s use of the words "full scholarship" is even more inaccurate if he’s describing his own experience, experts agreed. Tran told us it’s conceivable a ROTC commander or even a general would encourage a student to apply to West Point, touting the free tuition, but noted that anyone familiar with the process understands that that’s contingent upon nomination and acceptance.
"(Carson) would not have been ‘offered’ the opportunity to attend West Point at no cost, like all other cadets, until he applied and received an appointment, which he never did," Buehler said.
Carson defended his use of the word scholarship in discussing his recruitment to West Point, saying, "Go look on the West Point website and you’ll see those specific words, ‘full scholarship to West Point.’"
The military academy has used the words "full scholarship" a few times in admissions literature and advertisements and in one place on its website.
However, experts say Carson’s use of the word scholarship doesn’t properly explain the application and appointment process to West Point.
Carson’s statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. That meets our definition of Mostly True.
Correction: After this story was published, we found an additional instance of the words "full scholarship" on West Point’s website. The article has been updated to reflect that. The ruling remains Mostly True.
I am a junior in a college prepatory highschool (one of the best) in Florida. But i am worried i wont get accepted into West Point because of my terrible HS performance. My goal is to comission in the army as an officer through The Academy, as it is where my heart is at. I have a terrible gpa due to personal issues that ive had, but am very confident in getting a high test scores and excell in other areas. Its not that i was incompetent in any way, its just simply i felt like i had no direction until now. Junior year something happened to me relationship-wise that caused me to be very somber, and most likely this year will be the worst academically. Its not excuse and i have learned to stay strong and try to endure.But I really am serious about this as i have ambitious goals in life, and that includes becoming an officer in the army.
In your opinion...What would be my best/suitable option to get into the academy, or if not, just become an officer??
1.Enlist in National Guard and do community college in my state, so i can get a high college GPA (3.5+) and apply to west point (multiple times if necessary)
2.Go to The citadel/VMI, do rotc there and perform well, and try to apply to west point, or just finish ROTC to commission as an officer.
3.Go to community college directly after highschool, and apply to west point (multiple times) concentrating on proving myself academically.
1. 2.3 gpa weighted (not good at all)
2.200 community hours in library, church, hospital ect...
3.Nearly perfect SAT/ACT scores (1550/32)
4.been to clubs such as FBLA, Japanese culture club, and chess club.
5.Have taken honors classes throughout my Highschool along with one/two AP Classes.
6.sports is not my strong area either, but i do work out and am physcially fit, along with Swimming and playing Tennis
7.I have leadership potential, with business/History/Politics as my favorite subjects.
8.i can get reccomendations from teachers and try to write an essay regarding my potential.
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