Midshipmen earn $600 a month with 7.5% raise

Defense act boosts salary at five service academies

January 05, 1999|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

When the 4,000 or so midshipmen of the Naval Academy return to Annapolis this week, they'll find a little post-holiday gift from Uncle Sam waiting for them: a $10.51-a-week raise.

The raise brings midshipmen's monthly salary to $600, up 7.5 percent from $558. The last pay raise was in 1996, when it rose from $543.

Although midshipmen receive a free education -- and free room and board -- at the academy, they must pay for their uniforms, personal computers, haircuts and laundry. Because they are part of the U.S. Navy, they receive a military salary.

"And it teaches them a little bit of fiscal responsibility," said academy spokesman Cmdr. Mike Brady.

Raises are in store for students at the four other service academies -- the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.; and the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

Those pay increases -- plus a 3.6 percent raise for military and civilian professors at the five schools -- are compliments of the nearly $270 billion National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Clinton in October.

At the Naval Academy, most midshipmen have their pay deposited automatically into a Navy Federal Credit Union account -- $28.8 million annually, charged to the Navy's account.

Midshipmen don't pocket $600 a month to spend as they wish. Before their paycheck hits the bank, the Navy deducts money to repay the loan midshipmen receive their freshman year to buy personal computers and the uniforms for their four years in Annapolis.

Freshmen have $60 left each month. The amount increases each year as the loan dwindles: Sophomores get $115 each month; juniors get $160; and seniors get $250.

Seniors get more because they are closer to paying off their loans and have more evenings and weekends off -- the privileges of their seniority. This year, there are fewer weekends of liberty in which to spend their salaries.

In September, Superintendent Vice Adm. John R. Ryan, in an effort to refocus on academics, cut the number of weekends midshipmen are allowed off campus. For freshmen, the liberty schedule didn't change: They get no weekends off. Sophomores get two instead of three weekends of liberty; juniors get four, down from five; and seniors get seven, down from eight.

Pub Date: 1/05/99

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