In response to ongoing recruitment challenges, the US Navy has implemented a significant policy change, now allowing individuals who have not graduated from high school or obtained a GED to enlist, provided they achieve a score of 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). This move marks a notable shift in recruitment standards, as the Navy confronts a historic recruiting crisis.
In Fiscal Year 2023, the Navy fell short of its recruitment targets. The goal was to enlist 37,700 sailors, but only 30,236 were recruited. This shortfall has led the Navy to set even higher targets for Fiscal Year 2024, aiming for 40,600 enlisted sailors. Despite these challenges, the Navy managed to secure 6,000 more contracts for future sailors in FY 2023 compared to FY 2022.
The decision to enlist individuals without a high school diploma or GED is not unprecedented; the Navy last adopted this policy in 2000. The change is seen as a means to expand the pool of potential recruits, particularly those who may have faced educational disruptions due to COVID-19 or other personal challenges. It’s estimated that this policy could result in an additional 500 to 2,000 sailors enlisting each year.
In addition to adjusting educational requirements, the Navy has introduced several other initiatives to boost recruitment. These include raising the maximum enlistment age from 39 to 41, increasing enlistment bonuses, and offering academic skills training programs. The Navy has also adjusted its policy regarding the AFQT, allowing individuals who score between the 10th and 30th percentile to join if they qualify for a specific Navy rating based on their ASVAB line scores.