Army Enlistment Incentives Program Enhancements

Wednesday February 13, 2008

What is it?
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2006 approved changes in enlistment bonus ceilings, modified some existing bonuses, expanded the scope of the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), and instituted a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) pilot test. NDAA 2007 changed the interservice transfer bonus amount and authorized payment of an Officer Candidate School (OCS) enlistment bonus.

What has the Army done?
As authorized in NDAA 2006 (January), the Regular Army implemented a $40,000 enlistment bonus program, precisely doubling the previous enlistment bonus ceiling. In the same legislation, the Army Reserve and Army National Guard implemented a twofold increase (from $10,000 to $20,000) in their non-prior service enlistment bonus. To these changes was added statutory authority for an interservice transfer bonus of $2,500.

The statute governing student loan repayments for the active component was expanded to permit more flexibility in the types of loans that the services were allowed to repay. That expansion permits repayment of education loans from commercial banks or credit unions, pension plans, and state loans, as well as federally recognized student education loans. This expanded authority was implemented on Oct. 19, 2006.

Subsequent legislation also mandated that the Army institute a TSP matching test to gauge its feasibility as a recruiting tool. Authority to match dollar for dollar up to three percent and 50 cents on the dollar up to five percent was implemented on June 1, 2006, for selected enlistments in critical skills. This pilot test will continue through FY07.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army received authority in NDAA 2007 to implement an OCS enlistment bonus with provisions retroactive to April 2005. The Army's Officer Accessions Division has drafted policy to fully implement this authority upon legal review. NDAA 2007 raised the $2,500 interservice transfer bonus to $10,000, and this new ceiling has been implemented. NDAA 2006 (section 2171) approved an expanded SLRP for the Regular Army, but the statute governing reserve-component bonuses (section 16301) did not change. The Army is actively pursuing a FY08 change to section 16301 that will provide a similar student loan repayment authority for the reserve components. The success of current and pending Army pilot projects (Recruiter Incentive Pay and others) will determine further needs.

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 remain competitive with the other services and with Civilian alternatives. A strong incentives package supports the Army's ability to attract the best talent available.

For more information:


- 2007 Strategic Communication Guide - Read the 2007 Army Strategic Communication Guide for key messages and updates

- Strategic Communication Coordination Group (SCCG) Workspace

- Army Public Affairs Portal

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