New recruits are no longer required to have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate to join the U.S. Army if they’re willing to enlist before the end of the 2022 fiscal year, the service announced Thursday.
Military.com first reported the Army announcement on Friday, which said individuals can enlist in the service without the previously required proof of high-school level education if they’re willing to ship to basic training before the end of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Prospective recruits must still be at least 18 years, qualify for a job in the active-duty Army and score at least 50 points on the 100-point Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
A score of 50 on the ASVAB is relatively low, though a score of 31 is the bare minimum to qualify for Army service in general.
The Army has allowed people to enlist at the age of 17 without having finished high school through the Future Soldiers Program, but they would have to finish their high school education or equivalent program before they could ship to basic training.
This change in requirements to enlist in the Army comes as the service has struggled in recent months to meet its recruiting goals. The Army and other military branches have been offering new incentives amid struggles in recruiting across the board.
In January, the Army was offering up to $50,000 in bonuses for new recruits to take on specialties that are in high demand, like missile defense crews, special forces, signals intelligence and fire control specialists.
On June 17, the service announced a new bonus incentive, offering a $35,000 bonus to ship within 45 days on a typical four-year contract in all career fields. The Army also announced a $10,000 bonus for recruits to sign on to a special contract that entails two years of service in the active-duty Army, followed by two more years in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve.
“Future Soldiers who have enlisted and are shipping in July, August or September are authorized to renegotiate their contract to ship earlier but they are limited to the training seats available,” Patricia Crowe, the Enlistment Eligibility Processing Division Chief with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) said.
Last week, the Army made yet another change to increase the pool of potential recruits and incentivize the retention of current soldiers by easing its restrictions on the types of tattoos a potential recruit may have upon joining.
“The Army will now allow Soldiers to have one tattoo on each hand that does not exceed one inch in length,” the updated policy states. “Soldiers also have the option to place one tattoo no larger than two inches on the back of their neck and one, inch-long tattoo behind each ear. Additionally, tattoos can be impressed between fingers as long as the designs cannot be seen when the fingers are closed.”
Previously, recruits who had these types of tattoos had to fill out waivers for exceptions, which could sometimes take weeks to process before they could proceed with joining the service.
NBC News reported on Monday that the Army has reached about 40 percent of its enlisted recruiting goal for the 2022 fiscal year, ending on Sept. 30. The Army has just over three months to reach the remaining 60 percent of its annual recruiting goal but the summer months after high school graduations are when recruiters typically do their most work.