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Army College First Enlistment Program

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The Army offers a unique enlistment incentive called "Army College First," that allows college students to enlist in the Army in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), continue with their college education, receive a monthly stipend from the Army, then enter the Army at the advanced rank of E-4 (if at least 30 college credits were earned under the program). Depending on MOS (job), individuals may also be eligible for a $3,000 "College First" Enlistment Bonus.

"College First" is a test program that the Army began in 2000. The program is still officially a "test," but the Army has decided to continue the "test" at least for FY 2004 (which ends 30 September 2004). For FY 2004, the Army is restricting program participation to limited geographical areas. See your local Army Recruiter for more information.

To be eligible, a candidate must be enrolled in, or accepted by, an accredited college or university. Maximum time allowed in the program is two years of college. (30 months). Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 35, and must have a high school diploma (no GEDs). Additionally, applicants must score at least a 50 on the overall score (AFQT Score) of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The minimum active duty enlistment period under "College First" is two years, but actual active duty enlistment requirements may be more (up to 4 years), depending on the MOS (job).

Applicants must meet the normal qualifications for enlistment, and enlist in the DEP, with the "College First" program guaranteed on their enlistment contract. While in the "College First" program, applicants receive a monthly stipend from the Army of $250 per month during their first year and $350 per month during the second year. The stipend is paid to the recruit, not the university.

In Fiscal Year 2001 (1 Oct 00 to 30 Sep 01), the Army enlisted 342 recruits under the "College First" program. That increased to 607 recruits in Fiscal Year 2002.

When first enlisting under the "College First" program, applicants are not guaranteed a specific job. They return to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) six months before they are scheduled to ship out to basic training, for job selection. Upon receiving their degree (or finishing the program), they are enlisted at the advanced rank of E-4 (if they have earned a minimum of 30 credit hours), and ship out to basic training within 30 days. Recruits under this program are eligible for the normal Montgomery GI Bill, the Army College Fund (some jobs), and the Army (some jobs), just like other Army enlistees.

Individuals who fail to complete the requirements of enlistment, are required, by federal law, to repay the total amount of stipends received.

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