My Coast Guard
Commentary | May 25, 2021

PCS expenses have you stressed? Know your options

[Editor's Note: This article is one in a series covering various PCS-related topics. Please see the Resources section below for the other articles in the series.]

Any time you move your home from one place to another you might incur a lot of out of pocket expenses. Just the basic expenses of first and last month’s rent, security deposit, and application fees add up quickly. Adding on the expense of eating out until your household goods arrive, child care and/or pet care expenses when the movers are there packing up your belongings, to possible extra hotel stays.  

Here's the good news - it doesn't have to come out of your checkbook all at once. Here are some of your options as a military member.

Advance Pay 

When making a permanent change of station (PCS), you may request an advance of up to three months of basic pay, basic allowance for housing or overseas housing allowance (OHA) to cover unreimbursed expenses. This advanced pay is meant to provide you with the funds to meet extraordinary expenses when the government orders you to relocate. When these out-of-pocket expenses exceed, or are not typical of, day-to-day military living, this option is meant to help. It is intended to assist with the out-of-pocket expenses that exceed or not typical of day-to-day military living.  

Some key things to know about advance pay:  

  • Advance pay must be approved by your chain of command.   
  • Advance pay is usually three months basic pay minus normal deductions like SGLI, taxes, Tricare, TSP, etc.    
  • The member normally pays the advance pay back over a 12 month period, but may be extended to 24 months with commanding officer’s (CO) authorization.  
  • You can get advance pay 30 days before your transfer date.  

Advanced BAH/OHA 

If you chose to request advanced BAH/OHA, it is expected that you will use these funds to pay for is advance rent, security deposits, and/or initial expenses incident that come with moving into non-government owned or leased housing. You can expect to repay your BAH/OHA advance payment over a 12- month period.  

  • Advanced payment of BAH cannot exceed three months.  

  • Advancement payment of OHA cannot exceed one year’s anticipated housing expenses, or one year’s OHA, interim housing allowance, and BAH accruable for the member at that station, whichever is less.  

Grants and Loans

Housing loans: Another option for members who need financial assistance to help pay for housing on the economy is Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA). CGMA offers interest-free loans for first month and/or last month rent and security deposits needed to move into a home or apartment.    

If you are purchasing a home, CGMA also offers interest-free loans up to $6,000 on closing day to assist with closing costs. 

Childcare grants: Sometimes childcare is one of those surprise situations that may come up on either end of the move. CGMA offers PCS childcare grants, which pay up to $450 per family for childcare while engaged in activities related to PCS, such as during household goods (HHG) pickup or delivery. 

Moving your entire life from one place to another can be stressful. Hopefully financial stress will not add to your list. Talk with your supervisor about your concerns.  

More Financial Support Resources

  • The Coast Guard’s Personal Financial Management Program provides access to financial resources, education, training, and counseling services, including Personal Financial Managers at each Health, Safety, and Work-Life Regional Practice (HSWL-RP). 
  • CG SUPRT offers free money coaching sessions; visit www.CGSUPRT.com or call 1-855-CG SUPRT (247-8778).  

More PCS Resources