About Basic Allowance for Housing
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a monthly payment given to military members who do not live in government-owned housing. It is intended to cover the costs of off-base, private housing, whether it is rented or purchased.
The specific amount of BAH a military member receives is based on their pay grade, dependency status, and the location of their duty station. To determine the BAH you are eligible for before buying or renting a property, you can use the BAH calculator.
How BAH is Calculated
BAH rates are calculated by considering the housing costs in the market where you are stationed, as well as your pay grade and dependency status. Since these factors can change, your BAH amount may also change over time.
In general, higher-ranking military personnel and those with more years of service receive higher BAH payments. Additionally, BAH rates are higher in areas with more expensive housing markets.
To calculate your BAH rate, simply enter your pay grade and duty station into the BAH calculator. If you have dependents, indicate this in the calculator, and the BAH amount will be updated accordingly. You will see your monthly and yearly BAH, as well as the median home price in your area.
In 2023, BAH rates increased by 12.1%, surpassing the proposed rates for the year. This marked the largest increase in Basic Allowance for Housing in over a decade.
If you are considering buying a house with a VA loan, you can refer to a comprehensive guide that explains how to use your BAH income to qualify for a VA mortgage.
BAH Rules for Military Couples (Dual Military)
For military couples, BAH can be a bit confusing. In most cases, each military member will receive their own BAH even after getting married. However, when dependents are involved, the rules become more nuanced.
If a military couple has dependent children, only one of the service members will qualify for the with-dependent BAH rate. Typically, the higher-ranking member will receive this rate, while the other member will continue receiving their single BAH payment.
If a military couple is living apart, meaning they are not stationed together, the with-dependent BAH will go to the partner with whom the dependents actually reside.
Using the BAH Calculator for MHA
Although similar to BAH, the payments under the GI Bill are referred to as Monthly Housing Allowances (MHA). If you are a Veteran, reservist, National Guard member, military spouse, or child using the GI Bill, you may also be eligible for funds to offset your housing costs.
MHA payments are calculated using the same base BAH rates, but for the location where the student attends the majority of their classes, rather than where the military member is stationed. The default pay grade used for MHA is E-5.
To qualify for MHA, you must have a Rate of Pursuit of 50.1% or higher, meaning you are taking at least 50.1% of the classes a full-time student would take. If you meet this requirement, enter E-5 as your pay grade in the GI Bill BAH calculator and input the city and state of your school. The calculator will show the MHA amount you qualify for.