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What the Recruiter Never Told You

Part 4 -- Enlistment Contracts and Enlistment Incentives


One word of warning -- the amount of the "College Fund" shown on your enlistment contract usually includes the amount you are authorized under the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the amount of the extra funds provided by the service. So, if your enlistment contract says you have a total $40,000 "College Fund," $37,224 (2006 rates) would be from the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which you would have been eligible for anyway, "college fund," or not. So, in this case, the actual amount of the "College Fund" (ie, "extra" education money given by the service) is only $2,776.

Usually (but not always), if you accept the college fund, this will decrease the amount of any monetary enlistment bonus you may be entitled to. The Navy and Marine Corps offers up to $50,000 (combined college fund and G.I. Bill) for their College Fund Programs. The Army offers up to $71,424. Again, the exact amount offered often depends on the job selected.

As with other enlistment incentives, if you were promised the College Fund, you must ensure it is listed on your final active duty enlistment contract or an annex to the contract.

Advanced Enlistment Rank. All of the services offer advanced enlistment rank for recruits with a certain number of college credits, or for participation in other programs, such as Junior ROTC in high school.

  • The Army offers advanced enlistment rank up to E-4 for college, and up to E-2 for other programs (such as JROTC). The Army also offers accelerated promotion to recruits with certain civilian-aquired job training or skills, through the Army Civilian Aquired Skills Program (ACASP).

  • The Air Force offers advanced enlistment rank up to E-3 for college and participation in other programs. The Air Force is the only service which offers accelerated promotion for six-year enlistees.

  • The Navy offers advanced enlistment rank up to E-3 for college and participation in other programs. The Navy also offers accelerated promotion up to E-4 for individuals who enlist in certain designated enlistment programs (Such as the Nuclear Field).

  • The Marine Corps offers advanced enlistment rank up to E-2 for college and participation in other programs.

  • The Coast Guard gives advanced rank up to E-2 for college and up to E-3 for other programs.

With the exception of the Air Force six-year enlistee advance rank program, recruits who join with advanced rank are paid the rate of base pay for that advanced rank right from the first day of active duty. However, in most of the services, recruits do not get to actually wear the rank until they graduate from basic training (in basic, everyone is treated the same -- ie, just lower than whale droppings).

For Air Force six-year enlistees, they enlist and go through basic as an E-1 (or E-2 if they were qualified, such as college credits) and are then promoted to E-3 20 weeks following basic training graduation, or when they graduate technical school (job training), whichever occurs first. Date of Rank as an E-3 is then back-dated to the date of basic training graduation. Airmen don't receive "back-pay" for this, but the earlier date-of-rank makes them eligible for E-4 earlier.

As with other enlistment incentives, advanced enlistment rank must be included on your enlistment contract.

College Loan Repayment Program. All of the active services, except the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, offer a college loan repayment program (CLRP). The Army Reserves, Navy Reserves, Army National Guard and Air National Guard also offer a limited college loan repayment program. In a nutshell, the service will repay all, or a part of a college loan, in exchange for your enlistment. Loans which qualify are:

  • Auxiliary Loan Assistance for Students (ALAS)
  • Stafford Student Loan or Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL)
  • Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loans)
  • Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL)
  • Perkins Loan or National Direct Student Loan (NDSL)
  • Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)
Guaranteed First Duty Assignment. The Army and the Navy are the only active duty services which can offer a guaranteed first duty assignment. However, since the invasion of Iraq, the Army rarely offers this incentive anymore. When authorized, under the Army Program, you can get a written guarantee in your enlistment contract for your first duty assignment following basic training and job training (of course, there must be open positions for your particular job on the base before the Army will give it to you). This option is only available for certain, hard-to-fill Army Jobs. Additionally, the guarantee is only good for 12 months. After that, the Army can move you anywhere it wants.

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