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COLA to Drop for Many

The 2011 Cost-of-living-Allowance (CONUS COLA) will drop in 2011 for most higher cost of living areas, this story reports.

Before you start worrying about this new hit to your paycheck (especially after the news from a few weeks ago), remember -- not everyone (like me!) receives COLA.

When I first read this story I was immediately confused over the difference between COLA and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). I like to think I am something of an expert at reading our paycheck, but let’s be honest -- that thing can get a little muddled.

COLA and BAH are not the same thing. BAH is a substantial allotment every military family receives no matter where they live. COLA, on the other hand, is a much smaller sum only received by families living in about 25 areas across the country.

Like BAH, the COLA amount is based on pay grade and years of service. Unlike BAH, COLA does not come with a rate protection for those already receiving it. If the rate drops, your paycheck will reflect it.

According to the story, the drop is just another toll of the recession. Some cities were even taken off the COLA list altogether, including Madera, Calif., Miami/Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., Seattle, Wa., and both Perth and Ft. Monmouth, N.J.

A few areas were added, including Great Lakes Naval Training Center and Worcester, Mass., which have both been on the list in the past.

Visit this page to see what your COLA will be in the new year or find out if your area is on the list. You'll find the rate calculator at the very bottom of the page, but there is a lot of useful information about COLA above it.

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