U.S. troops stationed throughout continental Europe can expect to see a bit more money in their next paycheck, as the cost-of-living allowance was increased for the first time since March.

The Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee in Washington, D.C., adjusted servicemembers’ COLA, effective Monday, said Sgt. 1st Class Dean Lowery of the 266th Finance Command.

While COLA hikes vary by rank, time served and number of dependents, most will see a roughly 16 percent increase.

But just how much extra a soldier or officer will be paid is also dependent on a variety of other factors, including whether he or she is based in an area with many American military resources, such as commissaries and post exchanges.

Simple geography also plays a part in the complex and arcane COLA allotment process.

According to the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee’s Web site, a Bamberg, Germany-based E-5 with three dependents and six years of service, who lives off base, will receive a COLA payment of $329 for this pay period, up from $282. An E-5 stationed in Naples, Italy, with the same criteria will see a COLA pay raise from $399 to $446.

Decisions to change COLA allotments are made generally on the 8th and 23rd of each month, Lowery said, with the new COLA rates taking effect at the beginning or in the middle of the month.

Any change in the allotment in Europe happens when the euro’s value against the dollar fluctuates by more than 5 percent, with the latest change coming when the dollar fell to .7815 euros, Lowery said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The dollar continued to fall early this week, hitting a 12-month low, but Lowery would not say this week if that would further affect the COLA rate.

“It’s yet to be determined what will occur in the next review period,” he wrote.

When pressed to explain just how the committee charged with determining COLA rates computes those allotments, Lowery said he did not know all the specifics.

“It’s a big logarithm that’s apparently top secret, because they don’t give it to anybody,” he said.

To figure out the jump in your own cost-of-living allotment, log on to

COLA adjustments for civilians are determined by the U.S. State Department. New rates for the May 1 pay period have yet to be posted on the agency’s Web site.

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