Future sailors and veterans who agree to re-up can combine the maximum enlistment bonus with a maximum student loan repayment — to cap out at $115,000 — provided they enlist or reassess into active duty and can ship out before the end of September.
The Navy, which raised the maximum enlistment bonus to $50,000 in February, said the incentives aim to attract the “highest quality of recruits,” and come as all the services struggle to hit recruitment quotas this fiscal year.
“The maximum current enlistment bonus is $50,000, and the maximum loan repayment is $65,000,” Rear Adm. Lex Walker, the head of Navy Recruiting Command, said in a news release. “They are not mutually exclusive, so if a Future Sailor maximizes both, that adds up to a life-altering $115,000, and the opportunity to serve in the world’s finest Navy.”
Under the Enlisted Loan Repayment Program, the Navy covers student loans that were taken out prior to a sailor enlisting for active duty, such as the Stafford Student Loans.
Future sailors must have the Loan Repayment Program listed as a guarantee in their current annex to DD Form 4 (Enlistment Guarantee/NAVCRUIT 1133/52) in order to maintain eligibility.
Navy veterans, or veterans from other services, must have previously served at least 12 consecutive weeks on active duty to qualify for the bonuses. They are not eligible for these incentives if they previously received an enlistment bonus.
While Navy veterans are required to complete in-processing at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, veterans from other services must also complete a three-week Naval Orientation Course at RTC Great Lakes.
Those who re-enter active duty will serve in pay grade E-4 or below, the Navy said.
“If you are a Sailor, Marine, Airman, Soldier, Guardian or Coast-Guardsman who recently separated, this is an opportunity without precedent,” Walker said. “And if you have student loan debt, you could be eligible for the Loan Repayment Program if you ship in any month of any fiscal year while the program remains active.”
The bonus announcement comes as all the services face obstacles with recruiting numbers this fiscal year. Military leaders have said more thorough medical screenings, fewer Americans eligible to serve, and low civilian unemployment have all made it more challenging to recruit new service members.
Still, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told reporters July 26 that the Navy is currently on track to meet its goals, despite the recruiting challenges.
“This isn’t the first time that we’ve faced these challenges,” Gilday said. “We just can’t rest on our laurels. We have to be more innovative. We have to be more creative. Our outreach has to improve.”