Enlistment and Reenlistment Bonuses

briefcase with cash

In addition to pay, there are two types of bonuses that encourage soldiers to start and/or stay in the service. The following is a summary of the bonuses servicemembers are eligible to receive:

Enlistment Bonus

There are many benefits to joining the Armed Forces, but few directly affect your pay as much as enlistment bonuses. In fact, if you enlist in military you may be eligible for up to $40,000 in cash bonuses.

Your actual bonus will depend on the service branch, specific job specialty -- also known as a rating (Navy), AFCS (Air Force), or MOS (Army and Marine Corps) - and length of enlistment contract. Only the U.S. Military offers high school graduates these types of signing bonuses.

Reenlistment Bonus

If you are an armed forces servicemember you may be eligible for a reenlistment (or retention) bonus, provided:

  • You have completed at least 17 months of continuous active duty (other than for training) but not more than fourteen years of active duty.
  • You are qualified in a military skill designated as critical by the Secretary of Defense, or by the Secretary of Homeland Security - with respect to the Coast Guard.
  • You are not currently receiving special nuclear-training pay.
  • You reenlist or voluntarily extend your enlistment for a period of at least three years.
  • You enlist in a regular component of the service concerned; or continue in a reserve component of the service concerned.

The bonus to be paid may not exceed the lesser of the following amounts:

  • The product of 15 times the monthly rate of basic pay to which the member was entitled at the time of the discharge or release of the member; and
  • The product of the number of years (or the monthly fractions thereof) of the term of reenlistment or extension of enlistment of up to $100,000.

Refund of Bonuses:

Be aware that if you voluntarily, or because of misconduct, don't complete the term of enlistment (or reenlistment) for which a bonus was paid, or are not technically qualified in the skill for which the bonus was paid, (other than a member who is not qualified because of injury, illness, or other impairment not the result of the member's misconduct), you must refund a prorated portion of the bonus according to the time of service left on your contract.

Each service's policy and guidelines for re-enlistment bonuses are different and change periodically based on the current needs of the service. For more information on the latest Reenlistment Bonus changes check out Military Report.

Related Topics

Military Pay