The way Marines earn extra cash through foreign language proficiency bonuses has changed to reflect Defense Department-wide revisions — and while it will lead to extra money for some, others will lose a bit.
The Marine Corps announced major revisions to its Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus Program in Marine administrative message 554/14, signed Oct. 28. Most notably, monthly pay has been tweaked for some, and the number of pay tables has been reduced from three to two.
"Pay table titles are changed from schedule A to schedule 1, and schedules B and C combined to form schedule 2," the MARADMIN states.
Marines can collect bonuses ranging from $25 to $1,000 per month, depending on skills, demand and number of additional languages spoken. Those determinations are now made according to payment schedules. The Corps has changed the number of schedules from three to two, based on DoD's new policy.
Which languages are eligible for bonus pay and which schedules they fall into was not immediately clear. Those lists have been published as "for official use only" in years past and are withheld from public release.
When compared with pay rates in Marine Corps Order 7220.52E, those in the new MARADMIN show slightly less money for some with the lowest qualifying proficiency and more for some with the highest scores.
For example, a Marine who qualifies for schedule 1 pay with a 1+/1+ score — an elementary proficiency "plus" in at least two categories — will receive $150, or $50 more than in the past. Those scores are set by the Interagency Language Roundtable scale, which measures foreign language aptitude ranging from zero, or no proficiency, to five, or native proficiency. The categories include reading, listening, speaking and writing.
Marines with scores of 1/1 in a language for schedule 2 will receive half the amount they used to receive, now taking home just $25 extra per month.
Top qualifiers on schedule 2, however, will take home more money. A Marine with a 4/4 score, for example, will now receive the maximum allowed under Corps regulations, taking home an extra $500 per month compared to $400 in years past. Marines can earn the maximum bonus for up to two languages.
The changes do not alter current eligibility requirements last revised in August 2013. Requirements were tightened then to the current standards, which require more testing. There are three Defense Language Institute tests with one for listening, reading and speaking. Marines must qualify in at least two of those areas to receive extra language pay. In the few languages where there is only a single test, Marines must also undergo an oral exam.
The new MARADMIN will govern administration of foreign language proficiency bonuses until the service can update Marine Corps Order 7220.52E, which sets forth Marine-specific details for the program's administration. The new order will be designated as MCO 7220.52F.