Basic Allowance for Housing
Basic Allowance for Housing calculations based on data from the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Travel Management Office.
See Past BAH Rates
About Basic Allowance for Housing
Military members not living in government-owned housing are given a Basic Allowance for Housing. This monthly payment is meant to cover the costs of off-base, private housing, whether it’s rented or purchased.
The exact amount of BAH a military member receives is based on their pay grade, dependency status, and the location of the duty station they’re assigned to. Use this calculator to determine the BAH you’re eligible for before buying or renting a property.
How BAH is Calculated
BAH rates are calculated by taking into account the housing costs in the market you’re stationed in, as well as your pay grade and dependency status. Because these factors often change, your BAH may change as well.
Generally speaking, higher-ranking military personnel and those with more years of service will have higher BAH payments. BAH rates are also higher in costlier housing markets.
To calculate your BAH rate, enter your pay grade and duty station into the BAH calculator. If you have dependents, check the box indicating so, and the BAH amount will update at the top. You’ll see your monthly and yearly BAH, plus the median home price in the area.
How often are BAH rates updated?
BAH rates are updated annually based on housing costs. If rents and home prices change in a particular market, BAH rates will follow suit on January 1st of the next year. If your pay grade or dependency status changes, your BAH will update immediately, and your BAH payment will reflect your new status the following month.
Yearly BAH Rate Changes
In 2023, BAH rates increased 12.1%, up from a 5.1% increase in 2022. This increase exceeded the original proposed BAH rates for the 2023 calendar year and marked the largest increase to Basic Allowance for Housing in over a decade.
|Year||Proposed Increase/Decrease||Actual Increase|
|2021||2.90% – 3.70%||2.90%|
What if my BAH rate went down this year?
Your BAH payment can decline if you’re moved to a lower pay grade or your dependency status changes. For example, your BAH would decline if you no longer had a dependent child in your household.
However, BAH rates cannot decrease due to market changes. If home prices or rents fall in your duty station area, the Grandfather Clause protects your previous higher BAH rate meaning your BAH will not decline as long as you’re at that current station.
Can you count BAH as income for VA loan applications?
Yes, lenders recognize and count BAH as a source of income, and you can use your BAH as income when applying for a VA loan. How far that BAH goes will depend on the price of the home you choose. In many cases, it may cover the mortgage payment entirely, and you may even have funds left over for other expenses, like utilities or HOA dues.
If you opt for a particularly high-priced home, you may need to put additional money toward your monthly payments. Your VA lender can help you determine what price range to shop in if you want to avoid this.
Are you considering buying a house with a VA loan? Here’s a comprehensive guide to getting a VA mortgage using your BAH income.
BAH Rules for Military Couples (Dual Military)
If you and your partner are both military members, BAH is a little confusing. Generally speaking, military couples will each get their own BAH — even once married. When dependents enter the picture, however, it gets more nuanced.
For military couples with dependent children, just one of the service members would be able to get the with-dependent BAH rate. Typically, you’d use the higher-ranking member, while the other would continue getting their single BAH payment.
If you’re a military couple living apart — meaning not stationed together, the with-dependent BAH will go to the partner with whom the dependents actually reside.
Using the BAH Calculator for MHA
Though it’s similar to a BAH, payments under the GI Bill are called Monthly Housing Allowances, or MHAs. If you’re a Veteran, reservist, National Guard member, or a military spouse or child using the GI Bill, you’re eligible for funds to offset your housing costs, too.
MHA payments are calculated using the same base BAH rates, just for the location where the student takes the majority of their classes and not where the military member is stationed. For MHA, a default E-5 rank is used.
You also must have a Rate of Pursuit of 50.1% or more to qualify for MHA. This means you’re taking at least 50.1% of the classes a full-time student takes at the institution. If you meet this requirement, enter E-5 as your pay grade into the GI Bill BAH calculator below, and input the city and state of the student’s school. It will then update with the MHA you qualify for.
Using Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) on VA Loans
Can I Qualify for a VA Loan Using GI Bill Assistance?
Counting Income and Allowances for Active Military, Guard & Reserve
Using a VA Loan for Manufactured Homes or Modular Homes