Future sailors and veterans who agree to reenlist can combine the maximum enlistment bonus with maximum student loan repayment — capped at $115,000 — provided they enlist or reassess on active duty and can ship before the end of September.
The Navy, which raised the maximum enlistment bonus to $50,000 in February, said the incentives were aimed at attracting the ‘best quality of recruits’ and coming in like all services struggling to meet recruitment quotas this exercise.
“The current maximum enlistment bonus is $50,000 and the maximum loan repayment is $65,000,” Rear Admiral Lex Walker, chief of Navy Recruiting Command, said in a news release. “They’re not mutually exclusive, so if a future sailor maxes out both, that’s a life-changing $115,000 and the opportunity to serve in the best navy in the world.”
Under the Enlisted Loan Repayment Program, the Navy covers student loans that were taken out before a sailor enlisted for active duty, such as Stafford student loans.
Prospective sailors must have the Loan Repayment Schedule listed as security in their current Annex to Form DD 4 (Security of Commitment/NAVCRUIT 1133/52) in order to maintain eligibility.
Navy veterans or veterans of other services must have already served at least 12 consecutive weeks on active duty to qualify for bonuses. They are not eligible for these incentives if they have already received an enrollment bonus.
While Navy veterans are required to undergo ongoing processing at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, veterans of other services must also complete a three-week Naval Orientation Course at RTC Great Lakes.
Those returning to active duty will serve at pay grade E-4 or lower, the Navy said.
“If you are a sailor, sailor, airman, soldier, guardian or coast guard who has recently separated, this is an unprecedented opportunity,” Walker said. “And if you have student loan debt, you may be eligible for the loan repayment program if you ship in any month of any fiscal year while the program remains active.”
Bonus announcement comes like all services face obstacles with recruiting staff for this fiscal year. Military leaders said tighter medical exams, fewer Americans eligible for service and low civilian unemployment have all made it harder to recruit new service members.
Still, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday told reporters July 26 that the Navy is currently on track to achieve its goals, despite recruiting challenges.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve faced these challenges,” Gilday said. “We simply cannot rest on our laurels. We need to be more innovative. We need to be more creative. Our influence must improve.