About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • I had to deal with a toilet tonight as well. Hysterical!

    You pretty much nailed it, spot on! The same thing happens with our taxes as well.

    I deal with SSI for our youger son too, and it’s been an issue for years. The government makes it as complicated as they can for military families.

  • SSgt Morse

    Have you learned the answer for this? I already asked their customer support email, but I doubt I’ll hear back from them anytime soon. Just emailed both my congressman and senator about MyCAA. USAF in the UK, and we’re having a tough time paying for college and trying to save for our PCS next year.

  • Patti Folkerts


    The total amount should not include the value of on-base military housing or the value of a basic military allowance for housing.

    This still does not clearly answer the question of BAS and other allowances, but my dh insists that since the military defines all of them as “entitlements” and NOT pay, that if they are exluding one we should exclude them all. I also found this comment on an official .gov FAFSA help site that clearly states to NOT include untaxed combat pay:

    Combat Pay or Special Combat Pay. Enter only the amount of combat pay that was taxable and included in adjusted gross income. Do not enter untaxed combat pay reported on the W-2 (Box 12, Code Q).

  • Patti and everyone else, you may find these two updates helpful: https://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2010/03/0… and https://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2010/03/1…. Together we’ll figure this all out!

  • Shannon

    I was wondering if anyone has actually spoken with someone at FAFSA to confirm this? My financial aid advisor actually CORRECTED my FAFSA by adding in our BAH & BAS, thus rendering me ineligible for Pell …. ugh. Battling for a reimbursement now …

    • Andrea

      This happened to me also. I was just renewing my fafsa online for 2011/2012 and I called to ask. This is correct, you do not enter the BAH amount. I have to go to the financial aid office first thing Monday and have them change it back because I am not able to do it.. It is frustrating, but they will change it and within days you will be eligible for it again this semester. Register for classes girl!

      • KateKashman

        Andrea, I’m so glad that you have pursued this. Good for you!

      • otilia

        I have submitted my FAFSA already. I got confused on this question as well and left it blank. Should I include something on this line or not? I’m confused : (

        • As far as completing the FAFSA, I went back and made corrections. I deleted the information I had about the housing allowance. I do not see why we have to add this information is not like we are keeping those funds considering that we are paying rent..I like most is alos confused.. well see what happens.

  • Danielle

    They are not supposed to add housing allowance in AT ALL! Some colleges do it so they won’t pay a lot of money it is not supposed to be on there neither is it supposed to be added on base or off!

    Bas is required but none of the other stuff trust me my college has been screwing me over to no end. Good luck!

    • otilia

      Hi Danielle just wondering where you got this information? I’m currently filling out my FAFSA and got stuck on this question. Thanks!

  • Mary

    I talked to a rep at FAFSA today and she said that I should include the housing allowance. I repeated what the application said:

    “Do not include the value of on-base military housing or the value of a basic military allowance for housing.”

    She said if I live off base I have to include it. I am utterly confused by this and don’t want to end up not qualifying for aide that I am supposed to get due to an error such as this. She didn’t know initially and had to check with someone else at FAFSA.

    This is really frustrating!

  • daphne

    My college just did the same with my application resultin in 600 bux a semester. If I decide to use MyCAA funds, they deduct the amount leaving me with exactly 38 dollars. How the hell am I supposed to buy my books that are more expensive than the tuition?. Wow, so much to assisting military spouses!

  • Leeza

    I just filled out a FAFSA on-line and asked about this problem via the Customer Service Live chat session. I was told that BAH does not need to be included, but BAS and COLA do. Not cool.

  • cindy rodriguez

    Regardless of how log you have been in the service, YOU do taxes every year i would hope, in that case you would know our housing allowance is not taxable!! another crybaby, just complaining. glad to hear you were smart enough to keep reading. Good luck with college!

  • Confuzzled as well
  • Guest

    Has anyone had an issue with the school adding in the BAH? I filled everything out & was given an award amount. I took classes based on that amount, a week into classes(can’t drop without penalty) my award changed, leaving a financial hardship. When I called to find out why they said it was because the school has to factor in BAH and therefore I am not allowed cost of living.

    • KateKashman

      I would print out the instructions that say not to include BAH, make an appointment with the financial aid office, and go in and talk with them. They can not change your FAFSA without your permission. However, I don’t know that there is any reason why they, outside the FAFSA, couldn’t include BAH. It might depend on what sort of financial aid you are receiving – is it federal financial aid (like a Pell grant or a federally organized student loan) or is it institutional financial aid (like a grant from the school)? I would absolutely be appealing the fact that they changed your award amount after the semester began if you gave them all the correct information in the first place. That sounds a little shady to me.

  • MikeK

    Off Topic: Actually, they can change your information if you submit verification documents that are different from the information originally supplied on the FAFSA. That’s the whole point of verification.. you verify the information supplied and sign and date your verification, which allows financial aid administrators to change your FAFSA.

    On Topic:

    These are the ONLY figures you will need to include for your 2010-2011 FAFSA military allowance. Multiply them by 12 (duh) for the yearly amounts. Hope this helps~

  • Emily


  • April


  • Nicole

    Can you get Fafsa money and mycaa funds??

  • Heather

    Military members get a Personal Statement of Military Compensation in the mail, yearly, around tax time. It has the BAH, BAS, and all other pay broken down by month and annually, as well.

  • Ashley

    It is RIDICULOUS that my husband’s uniform allowance and BAS is being counted as income against us. That money goes STRAIGHT to his uniforms, and the food is so crappy on the ship that on top of them immediately deducting it from the paycheck, I just send him to work with food anyway. What a load of crap. >:[

  • Liberty1

    Um..its still money. Regardless of what you use it for, it’s money. I wonder if anyone else has seen the reports on what your salary would have to be to keep your “lifestyle” after leaving the military. With all the “extra pay” it is actually quite a bit for e5 and up. Any MONEY made is MONEY made and should be considered for financial aid.

    • vagrant5099

      Thank you! If you choose to live off base and opt for a cheap (cardboard) apartment or load up on paying roommates you get to pocket the excess BAH and spend it for whatever so whatever silly label they use, entitlement or earned pay, you still are getting $ in your pocket to spend for rent or ? but you don’t pay any tax on it. Be grateful–your other option might be, “Would you like fries with that, Madam.”

      • mmo

        Actually, my husband and I CAN”T live on base because they don’t have enough housing. And we don’t pocket any money after housing. And when somebody puts their life on the line I think its okay to give them benefits such as housing. Nobody is forced to get a fast food job. Notice all of these people are asking this question because they are trying to get into college. Also, some people join the military for college to better their lives, and you also have the option to join the military and get such benefits. It is earned believe me. So before you criticize the men and women who defend your freedom, just be thankful they do that so you aren’t forced to ask “would you like fries with that?”

  • Pat d

    COLA is not an entitlement. It simply ensures that a Servicemember’s compensation has the same VALUE (I.e. purchasing power) as a person in an area with a lower cost of living. For example: $100 dollars in Hawaii does not nearly go as far as $100 in Oklahoma. Why should FAFSA punish people who are assigned and live in high cost areas?????

  • Jason

    I had the same question while filing my application for a Pell Grant as an active duty servicemember. While I was reviewing an education plan with an adviser, she informed me of the Pell Grant and recommended that I apply. She included that I must state my BAH and BAS on the application. However, when filing the application there is confusion with those statements. So I contacted my Financial Aid Office and they seemed a little confused but after reading the statements from the application, they stated only to include BAS and NOT BAH. So I did just that. I hope this helps!