With so many acronyms and various allowances, it can be confusing to keep track of everything you might need to know. We’ve broken down the list to give you definitions of each allowance
BAS – Basic Allowance for Subsistence – fixed rate for officers and enlist intended to cover cost of food. In reality does not cover even the cost of subsidized food at on-base dining halls. As an allowance, it is not taxed. Enlisted personnel on ComRats (I have no idea what that means) do not receive BAS; they have a meal card that they use for free meals at on-base dining halls. A meal card is not accepted at on-base restaurants.
BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing – allowance meant to cover the cost of housing off-base. Amounts are adjusted to the cost of living in the area around a base or post. The higher the service member’s rank, the more money provided by BAH. There is a rate increase for dependents. As an allowance, it is not taxed. Service members not permitted to live off base (must live in barracks, or ‘government quarters), or service members who choose to live on base, do not receive BAH. For families, on-base housing may provide more space and a better ‘neighborhood’ than off-base in the price range of BAH.
OHA – Overseas Housing Allowance – BAH provided for service members assigned overseas.
COLA – Cost of Living Allowance – allowance meant to augment salary in areas where there is a high cost-of-living. Examples include Hawaii, Japan, and some United States locations, like New York City. As an allowance, it’s untaxed. It is based on cost of living in in the location, pay grade of the service member, time the service member has remaining in service, and whether or not the service member has dependents.
Standard Initial Clothing Allowance – a fixed rate to purchase uniforms, provided at the beginning of service. It varies by service and sex of service member, and is available to enlisted service members only. As an allowance, it is untaxed.
Cash Clothing Replacement Allowance – a fixed rate provided yearly to replace worn uniforms. It varies by service and sex of service member, and is available to enlisted service members only. As an allowance, it is untaxed.
FSSA – Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance – allowance granted to unusually large families, if their monthly income is below a certain amount (determined by total family size). Contact your administration department if you believe you qualify.
FSA – Family Separation Allowance – allowance meant to offset travel and transportation costs incurred by a family when the servicemember is assigned to another geographical area (usually through deployment or geographical bachelor status). It is a fixed rater paid monthly.
HDIP – Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay – additional payment for service members involved in unusually dangerous duties, such as parachute jumping or explosive demolition. Most often it is tied to a specific assignment or occupational specialty. It is taxable, and fixed amounts are paid out based on service member’s rank.
ACIP – Aviation Career Incentive Pay – “Flight Pay” – additional payment for service members on flight status, recognizing the hazardous nature of flight. It is a special category of HDIP, and all the same conditions apply. Typically the service member does not receive ACIP after a certain amount of years not flying, determined by total flight hours.
Sea Pay – Incentive pay applied to service members on Sea Duty. While it most often applies to Navy and Marine Corps personnel, occasionally an Army or Air Force service member may be assigned sea duty as well. The same conditions apply as HCIP.
DLA – Dislocation Allowance – a fixed rate, based on service member rank and dependents, paid out to cover costs incurred with moving one’s place of residence at government orders. It must be requested in conjunction with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. It is an allowance and therefore untaxed. It will not be paid out for an end-of-service move.
Travel Allowance – money paid to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses while traveling on government orders, either for temporary duty or a PCS. It will cover airline, bus, or train tickets, hotel costs up to the ‘government rate’ (a maximum hotel cost determined by cost-of-living in a specific area). As it is a reimbursement, it will only be paid to the amount of the expense incurred, and usually only with justificatory receipts. The exception is mileage, which is a fixed rate per mile to cover fuel, maintenance, and wear on a vehicle. Travel Allowance is untaxed. It does NOT cover subsistence (food and sundries) while traveling.
Per Diem Allowance – a daily allowance paid to service members and families who are traveling on government orders. It is a fixed rate based on the cost of living in a particular area, or a fixed rate in general if the travel is by privately owned vehicle (POV). It is meant to cover food and sundries while traveling. As an allowance, it is untaxed. On the first and last day of travel, travelers only receive 75% of the allowance; during a day of travel they receive 100% of the allowance.
TLE – Temporary Lodging Entitlement – money paid to reimburse a service member and family who stay in temporary lodging in order to look for quarters in conjunction with a PCS move. It will cover the out-of-pocket expense occurred for up to 10 days in a hotel at the government rate, and will not be paid without a receipt. It is also untaxed.