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Enlistment Incentives Program Enhancements

What is it?
Enlistment Incentives Program Enhancements provide both the Active and Reserve Components with resources to bolster the Army's recruiting and retention efforts. The authority to commit these additional resources is spelled out in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

What has the Army done?
The NDAA of 2006 approved changes to the enlistment ceilings, modified some existing bonuses, expanded the scope of student loan repayment, and directed the initiation a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) pilot program.

On January 18, 2006, the Army implemented the $40,000 enlistment bonus program for the Active Component (AC). The previous enlistment bonus ceiling for the AC was $20,000. Statutory authority was also approved for an inter-service transfer bonus of $2,500. The provision raised the bonus to officer candidate school (OCS) graduates to $10,000. This change included instructions that make the program retroactive to April 2005. The Army officer accessions division has drafted a policy to fully implement this authority.

Also in January 2006, the Army Reserve and Army National Guard (ARNG) implemented the $20,000 non-prior service (NPS) enlistment bonus. The previous NPS maximum bonus for the RC was $10,000.

Legislation also mandated that the Army institute a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) matching test to gauge feasibility as a recruiting tool. As of June 1, 2006, the Army has the authority to match dollar-for-dollar, from three percent and 50 cents on the dollar up to five percent for selected enlistments in critical skills. This pilot test will last through calendar year 2008. The Army used the existing bonus authorities to great effect in the latter part of FY07 by increasing quick ship bonuses in critical skills and has continued this effort in FY08.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The NDAA of 2008 enhanced the Reserve Components Education Loan Repayment Program and some Reserve Components (RC) bonuses

The NDAA of 2008 also provided authority to pay bonuses for reserve contracts of three or six year duration and to some former members who previously failed to complete initial entry training. These provisions were implemented on February 22, 2008.

The NDAA of 2008 modified the statute governing student loan repayments for the AC. The change permits more flexibility in the types of loans that the services were allowed to repay. The expansion also permits repayment for education loans from commercial banks or credit unions, pension plans, and state loans in addition to federally recognized student education loans. The NDAA of 2008 also expanded the RC loan repayment program to reflect the same criteria as the AC program.

The Army also instituted the Army Advantage Fund (AAF) pilot program in FY08. The AAF offers a bonus for future down payment on a home or small business. The Army has also implemented an Active First initiative that will allows the ARNG to enlist Soldiers into the AC who will serve for up to 36 months before returning to their home unit to fulfill the remainder of their commitment in the selected reserve.

Why is this important to the Army?
Incentives provide the Army with the tools needed to effectively recruit and sustain the force. It is essential that the Army remains competitive with the other services and with other civilian alternatives. Strong incentive packages enhance the Army's ability to attract and retain the best talent available.

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