• Glossary
  • Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)

Basic Allowance for Subsistence

BAS is a free monthly stipend provided to American service men. Its objective is to assist in somewhat offsetting the cost of food that service members pay. BAS rates are changed annually to reflect the price of food. The food-cost index is calculated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

BAS has its roots in the early days of the military, when a member's pay included room and board (or rations), given by the government. The purpose of BAS is not to cover family members' dining expenses.

Calculation Of BAS Rates

To forecast future BAS rates, the USDA estimates current food prices in the continental United States. These charges are determined by the overall cost of the food in the area's zip code. Consequently, BAS and BAH are quite similar (Basic Allowance for Housing). Calculating BAH rates and BAS rates differ in a straightforward manner.

Every military member is qualified for BAS. Meals are still the responsibility of each member. Included in this are enlisted personnel who receive food and meals, such as those residing in governmental housing such as dormitories or barracks. BAS rates are based on a global average of food prices. The BAH rate is determined by the service member's precise location.

Enlisted Service Members

As previously stated, continuous BAS is available to all enlisted service members who qualify for basic pay. The only exclusions are as follows:

  • Service members who are Reserve or OCS students but have never had uninterrupted prior service.
  • Those who are on authorized educational leave
  • Excess individuals leave
  • AWOL military personnel
  • Candidates in training

Now, let’s see how this compares to officers who are eligible for BAS.


All eligible officers are entitled to Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), except in the following circumstances:

  • When a person has been missing for more than 24 hours.
  • When an officer is on an extended leave of absence.

It's also crucial to remember that officers are no longer eligible to receive rations in kind. This was the previous system of feeding enlisted personnel when meals were served in a mess hall for free. Officers are now required to pay for all meals, even in mess halls, due to the implementation of BAS.


  1. BAS II is a monthly allowance provided to enlisted members who are stationed at a permanent location and assigned to single Government quarters. This allowance is given when the quarters lack sufficient food storage or preparation facilities, there is no Government mess available, and the Government cannot provide meals by other means.
  2. On January 1, 2019, the BAS rate will be the same as it was on January 1, 2018.
  3. As of January 1, 2017, the BAS rate is the same as it was on that date in 2016.
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