Updated Hawaii COLA rates announced
LINK: DVIDSHUB VIDEO
by Tech. Sgt. Micky Pena, Defense Media Activity Forward Center – Pacific, 07.18.2017
HAWAII – U.S. Pacific Command announced changes to the 2017 Hawaii Cost of Living Allowance effective Sept. 1, 2017.
COLA is a non-taxable supplemental pay allowance designed to equalize purchasing power so that service members stationed overseas can purchase the same level of goods and services as if they were stationed in the continental U.S. The rate a member receives is based upon their location, rank, years of service and number of dependents.
All members stationed in Hawaii will receive a decrease in COLA based on a point based index system.
For example, whereas Oahu was rated at 124 points in the year 2016, which reflected the average prices paid for items to be 24 percent higher, the island is now rated at 120 points for 2017, which reflects a four point decrease with prices paid now only 20 percent higher.
Hawaii Island will also experience a four point decrease, Kauai a six point decrease, and Maui an eight point decrease.
A change of one index point equates to approximately $30 a month for an E-6 with three dependents and 10 years of service or $40 a month for an O-3 with three dependents and 10 years of service.
Beginning Sept. 1, members stationed on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Kauai will see the decrease reflected in their Leave and Earning Statement. Those stationed on Maui will see an initial decrease also on Sept. 1, and the full amount on their Oct. 1 LES.
This update is the result of The Retail Price Schedule, which is conducted annually by the Defense Travel Management Office. The RPS collects and compares prices OS and CONUS for approximately 120 goods and services.If average prices in CONUS are rising at a greater rate than those overseas, COLA will decrease. However, if prices rise or fall at the same rate, COLA will stay the same.
USPACOM Quality of Life and Education Analyst officials have stated that the primary reasons for upcoming COLA decreases can be attributed to a reduced gap between Hawaii and CONUS prices for non-food items such as furniture, household items such as small appliances and internet services, and clothing.
USPACOM will collect new prices for the 120 COLA items in March 2018, which will be used to determine the 2018 COLA rates for Hawaii. Additionally, members are encouraged to participate in future Living Pattern Surveys which occur every three years and have a direct impact on COLA rates.
For more information and to calculate your COLA, visit the DTMO COLA website at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/colaCalc.cfm