How Military Bonuses Are Paid

There are several types cash bonuses offered for joining the Armed Forces. These bonuses include extra cash for choosing a critical high-demand occupational specialty, having prior education level, civilian experience, special skills, and foreign language proficiency.

Most Army enlistment bonuses are paid 50 percent “up front” once you have completed your basic training with the remaining bonus amount paid at the completion of your enlistment contract.

The Army normally pays 50 percent at the completion of basic training, with the remaining 50 percent paid in equal annual installments during the term of enlistment.

Similarly the Army National Guard pays 50 percent at the completion of Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT). But the Guard pays the remaining 50 percent paid in at the end of three years service. However the National Guard also pays some of its highest bonuses in lump sum. Lump sum payments are paid upon successful completion of initial entry training.

The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard usually pay the entire bonus amount (lump sum), when you arrive at your first permanent duty station, following basic training.

In some cases the services may pay the bonuses incrementally as a servicemember reaches certain career milestones or following special training. For more detailed information on how enlistment bonuses are paid, contact a recruiter.

Repaying Bonuses

With few exceptions, you must repay any "unearned" portion of the enlistment bonus if you are discharged early, or you choose to re-train out of the occupation. For example, if you enlisted and received a $20,000 enlistment bonus for a 6-year enlistment, and only served in that job for three years, you would be required to pay back $10,000.

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