Information Papers

Enlistment Incentives

What is it?
The Army offers three different types of enlistment incentives: enlistment bonuses, the Army College Fund, and loan repayment. These incentives are designed to attract quality applicants to critical and hard-to-fill skills.

The active component offers an enlistment bonus ranging from $1,000 to $40,000 to non–prior service (NPS) applicants enlisting in areas of skills shortage or for critical training vacancies. Selected prior-service applicants may be eligible for an enlistment bonus depending on the specialty chosen or critical training seat vacancies. Soldiers must successfully complete basic and advanced individual training and arrive at their first duty station before they receive the initial enlistment bonus payment. The reserve component offers an enlistment bonus ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. An enlistment bonus of up to $20,000 is offered to NPS applicants enlisting for up to six years in designated units or critical skills. A maximum bonus of $15,000 is offered to prior-service (PS) applicants who enlist for six years. The initial enlistment bonus payment will not exceed $10,000, with subsequent payments made in equal annual amounts until the total bonus amount is paid. The Army also offers bonuses ranging up to $8,000 for college credit (HIGRAD) and up to $20,000 on the basis of seasonality (Quick-Ship) so as to maintain quality and the appropriate military occupational specialty (MOS) fill. Subject to the $40,000 bonus cap ($20,000 maximum for the reserve component), applicants may receive HIGRAD and Quick-Ship bonuses in addition to the regular enlistment bonus.

The Army College Fund (ACF) is offered to applicants who enlist in the active component for acritical Army skill. The ACF provides a supplement of up to $950 per month to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) for college targeted at those individuals who are both high school graduates and in TSC I-IIIA. Currently, the combined ACF/MGIB value is approximately $73,000. This program is most effective in meeting the dominant buying motive for most applicants: money for college. Elements of the reserve component pay an MGIB “kicker” of up to $350 per month for 36 months. The “kicker” amount is in addition to the basic MGIB reserve component benefit.

The Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is an enlistment incentive also designed to increase penetration of the college market. It is especially beneficial to individuals who had opted out of college at some point prior to graduation. The active component LRP pays up to $65,000 to high school graduates who enlist for service in critical-skill areas for at least a three-year term. The LRP repays one-third of the total amount of the loan per year or $1,500, whichever is greater, for each year served. Soldiers must maintain the MOS for which the LRP was offered. The reserve component LRP pays up to $20,000 to enlistees having a critical skill.

What has the Army done?
At least quarterly, the Army adjusts enlistment bonus amounts to address critical-skill vacancies. The Army has used seasonality bonuses to influence recruits to attend initial entry training during periods of reduced throughput. For example, it offered a $20,000 Quick-Ship seasonality bonus to boost fourth-quarter FY07 accessions for the active component.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
In 2008, the Army will introduce the Army Advantage Fund to broaden the array of recruiting incentives to include choices such as a down-payment for home purchase or equity for a small business. In the future, the Army may add other innovative incentive ideas to the Army Advantage Fund portfolio.

Why is this important to the Army?
To successfully recruit the more than 175,000 Soldiers per year required to sustain the All-Volunteer Force, the Army must continue to attract quality young men and women willing to serve their Nation through service in America’s Army by offering them worthwhile incentives for their selfless service, allegiance, and commitment.