Army Bonus and Incentive Overview

Spring 2010 Update: The Army is offering many new incentives for joining in 2010; If you qualify for more than one bonus the Army may combine them to pay a combined bonus, which is not to exceed $40,000.

The Army's enlistment incentives include both cash bonuses and other education and financial incentives. Army recruits can get bonuses for choosing a high demand military occupational specialty (MOS), for selecting a specific date to begin basic training, for being willing to leave for boot camp as soon as possible, for advanced civilian skills, electing to defer their enlistment and more.

Qualified applicants may be eligible to combine bonuses for a total of up to $40,000 for enlistments of four or more years in high demand military occupations . The following is a summary of the current 2008 Army enlistment incentives Be sure to contact an Army Recruiter for more details.

Active Army Cash Bonuses:

Other Army Enlistment Incentives:

Enlistment    Active Army/Army Reserve

3 years           $25,000/$10,000
4 years           $35,000/$15,000
5 years           $40,000/$20,000

Active Army Maximum Enlistment Bonus

The maximum combination of cash bonuses for an enlistment of four or more years is $40,000. The maximum for a three-year enlistment is $30,000. The maximum bonus for a two-year enlistment is $20,000.

Active Army Bonus for Civilian Skills (ACASP)

Qualified applicants who possess civilian skills that the Army needs, such as proficiency in certain foreign languages, X-Ray certification or specialties in animal care may be eligible for a $5,000 bonus.

Qualified Army Reserve applicants who already have civilian skills that the Army Reserve needs and enlist for six years in a critical skill specialty may be eligible for a $20,000 bonus.

Army Ranger Bonus

A $5,000 bonus for qualified applicants who enlist for an eligible MOS with the Ranger option, such as 25C, 27D, 42A, 92A, 92G, 92Y, 88M and 94F.  This bonus may be combined with other incentives.  This bonus is payable after the Soldier completes the Ranger Indoctrination Program and arrives at a Ranger Unit.

Active Army Education Bonus

Qualified applicants holding bachelors' degrees who enlist for two or more years in any MOS can earn $5,000.  Associate or two-year degree holders can earn $7,000.  Qualified high school graduates with 60 or more college semester hours can qualify for a $4,000 bonus, and those with 30 to 59 college semester hours can earn $3,000 for joining the U. S. Army.

Note: This bonus may be combined with other incentives.

The Middle Eastern Translator Bonus

Individuals who speak certain Middle-Eastern languages and enlist as Translator Aides in the U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve are eligible for a $10,000 enlistment bonus or $20,000 for enlistment into the Selected Reserve.

Individuals without previous military service who enlist for 09L in the active Army may be eligible for an Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program (ACASP) bonus of $5,000, which can be combined, with other bonuses up to $40,000.

Note: This bonus may not be combined with other incentives.

The GI Bill

All military recruits are eligible for the GI Bill without regard to cash enlistment bonuses. Their are two GI Bill programs, teh Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The MGIB is a pay-to-play benefit. Applicants are automatically enrolled in the GI Bill at the time of enlistment and must opt out within the allotted time frame. Those who do not opt out of the GI Bill make an automatic $1,200 contribution which will be taken out in $100 a month increments.

The new Post-9/11 GI Bill offers greater benefits and does not require members to pay to play. The Post-9/11 benefits include paid tuition, money for books and living expenses.

Learn more about the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  

Student Loan Repayment Program

The Student Loan Repayment Program offers eligible recruits who enlist for at least three years up to $65,000 toward qualifying student loans.  LRP is available with MOSs that offer enlistment incentives.  The GI Bill is not available with the Loan Repayment Program.

The Loan Repayment Program is also available to all qualified non-prior service Officer Candidate School (OCS) applicants.

The Army College Fund

The maximum benefit through the Montgomery GI Bill plus the Army College Fund is $73,836 for individuals who qualify for this program.  The Army College Fund is available to active Army applicants who qualify for selected Army occupational specialties. The Army College Fund amount is based on the term (length) of enlistment and the chosen MOS at the time enlistment.

Note: Most cash enlistment incentives may be combined with either the Army's Loan Repayment Program or the Army College Fund, but not both.

Partnership for Youth Success

Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) is an enlistment option that helps both non-prior service and prior service applicants secure post-Army employment.

A database allows the applicant to choose a PaYS partner that is looking for the job skills he or she will gain in the Army. The Army has more than 250 partners with more than 827,000 jobs available for recruits to select from during the enlistment process.

Under the terms of the agreement between Recruiting Command and the PaYS partners, enlistees gain specific job training and qualifications that will prepare them for employment with their selected PaYS partner.

As part of the enlistment process, the recruit signs a statement of understanding which contains specific details of the position selected and PaYS partner contact information.  This statement becomes part of the Soldier's official military personnel file.  Near the end of their enlistment, Soldiers will interview with the partner for a specific job at a specific location.

Note: PaYS may be combined with other enlistment incentives.          

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Matching Fund Program

All qualified non-prior service recruits who enlist for a minimum of five years in a critical job specialty are eligible for the TSP Matching Fund Program incentive.  A recruit who takes the TSP matching funds incentive will get the first five percent of their TSP contributions matched by the Army -- dollar for dollar on the first three percent and then 50 cents on the dollar for the remaining two percent.  The TSP incentive may be combined with any other enlistment bonus.
The matching funds will stay in place for their entire first term of enlistment, 5-8 years.  They will not get matching funds if they discontinue contributions to TSP during their initial term or if they re-enlist; it will only be matched for the original contract period.

The Thrift Savings Plan is a Federal Government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan.  The TSP offers the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under "401(k)" plans. TSP was extended to members of the uniformed services in October 2000.

The standard TSP is available to all Soldiers, who may enroll in the program at any time during their enlistment.  Soldiers can elect to contribute as much as 100% of their basic pay, including incentives, special or bonus pay, up to the annual IRS tax-deferred limit of $15,000.

Basic Enlistment Qualifications

  • U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident
  • 17 to 42 years old
  • Healthy and in good physical condition
  • In good moral standing
  • High school or equivalent education


The Rules regarding the payment of bonuses

Recruits who enlist for cash bonuses totaling more than $10,000 will receive their initial payment of $10,000 upon successful completion of initial entry training.  The remaining bonus amount will be paid in annual increments.

Enlistment bonuses totaling less than $10,000 will be paid in one lump sum upon successful completion of initial entry training. 

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