By Breasia Williams

For a lot of people, joining the military can be a good option for a career path. Some people may worry about the requirements to get into different branches of the military, especially those who did not graduate high school. This raises the question, “Can you join the military with a GED?” Luckily for people in this position, Navy enlistment requirements have been lowered, allowing people to join without a GED or high school diploma.

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Why Have the Navy Enlistment Requirements Been Lowered?

The lowering of Navy enlistment requirements came after the US Navy failed to meet their recruitment goals for the fiscal year of 2023. This past October, the Navy revealed that they only brought in 30,236 new active-duty Sailors. This was short of their original goal for the year of 37,700 new active-duty Sailors.

In addition, they also fell short of their goal for new reserve enlisted personnel. They had a goal of 3,000, but they only brought in 1,948.

The removal of the high school diploma, or GED requirement, is only the latest in a trend of Navy initiatives aimed at expanding applicant eligibility. In 2022, the Navy enlistment age maximum was raised from 39 to 41.

Following enlistment, Sailors may be eligible for Navy bonuses. Also in 2022, the Navy bonus maximum was raised to $50,000.

What Is Required to Join the Navy?

While this policy change increases applicant eligibility and makes it easier for more people to get in, it does not mean that the Navy is lowering its standards. Applicants must score at least 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. In addition, applicants must still qualify for special Navy enlisted ranks based on their score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

The enlisted rank of a Sailor will determine their occupational field and pay grade. Sailors who enter with college degrees will be eligible for a higher rank and higher Navy enlisted pay.

However, for those who enter the Navy without even a high school diploma or GED, free resources are available such as skills training programs and test preparation courses to aid Sailors in obtaining their GED once they are in service. This opens up the potential for college-level education.

Applicants must also meet the body-fat entry standards of the Navy. In April 2023, the Navy created a program called The Future Sailor Preparatory course to help applicants meet these standards and train them, academically, to introduce potential recruits to Navy life.

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The Navy’s 2024 Enlistment Goals

Without a high school diploma or GED, the military is still not completely accepting of potential recruits. The Navy is the only branch, to date, that is seeking to enlist people who lack these qualifications. In 2022, the Army briefly permitted the practice, but they quickly ended the program.

The Navy has not allowed those without high school diplomas or GEDs to enlist since 2000, but they are confident that this expansion will allow them to meet their recruiting goals for 2024. With new opportunities for Navy enlistment bonuses and for previously excluded applicants to get a Navy enlisted rank, the US Navy aims to enlist 40,600 active duty personnel this fiscal year.

With the lowered Navy enlistment requirements, they also aim to enlist 7,619 reserve personnel, 2,807 active duty officers, and 1,785 reserve officers.

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