Mountain West high school students are not taking advantage of ROTC scholarships to the degree they could, possibly because they don't know they are available, University of Utah ROTC officers say.

"I feel the word may not be getting out," said Lt. Col. William P. Kinnear Jr. of the U.'s Department of Aerospace Studies.Last year in Utah, Idaho and Montana (the area served by the Salt Lake program) 250 students applied for scholarships and 58 received them, he said. Nationwide, 2,000 scholarships are granted, and Kinnear said Mountain West students "could compete well if we could get the kids to apply."

Capt. Richard C. Bensemon, a former Utah school principal who says he broadened his opportunities by joining the Air Force, has been contacting high school counselors in the area to encourage them to be cognizant of the military scholarship program and to alert high school seniors to their possibilities.

ROTC scholarships obligate recipients to activity in the organization during college and four years of active duty subsequently in the military, Bensemon said. Twenty-five to 30 percent of those who go to college on an ROTC scholarship make the military a lifetime career.

ROTC graduates often step right into jobs that are more challenging, more advanced and more significant to a lifetime career than other college graduates can expect, Kinnear said.

Many of the scholarships steer students into high-demand aerospace careers, Bensemon said, in the fields of engineering, science, computer technology, meteorology and others.

At the U., a new scholarship is being offered in nursing - a career in which serious shortages currently exist nationwide, ensuring job opportunities for those in the field either inside or out of the military. The scholarships are good at 152 ROTC-related institutions.

Applicants must have a high school grade point average of at least 2.5 and be among the top 25 percent of their graduating class.