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How to Discharge Your Student Loans if You Are in the Military, Police, or Teacher

How to Discharge Your Student Loans if You Are in the Military, Police, or Teacher

More and more at we are getting questions about how to get your student loans eliminated, forgiven, or discharged if you are in or served in the military, police officer, teacher, librarian, or other public service employee.

It is absurdly ironic that members of the military can go into harms way, fight in combat and yet return back home only to struggle trying to escape the invisible bondage of penetrating student loan debt.

We almost need a secondary definition for PTSD. How About Prepare to Suffer Debt?

There are some real options that can help you do this but like the military there are rules to follow and hoops to jump through.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

One overlooked program is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Under this program members of the military that have been employed by the military or a qualifying public service job for the last ten years may have their federal student loans FULLY discharged.

Public service qualifying occupations include:

  • Emergency management,
  • Military service,
  • Public safety,
  • Law enforcement,
  • Public interest law services,
  • Early childhood education (including licensed or regulated childcare, Head Start, and state-funded pre-kindergarten),
  • Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly,
  • Public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations),
  • Public education,
  • Public library services, and
  • School library or other school-based services.

You need to be employed in these position at least full-time which is considered to be at least 30 hours a week or what the employer considers to be full-time.

The benefit of this program is it allows you to discharge your debt after it has been consolidated for a low payment. You can use the online student loan consolidation calculator here.

The way the program works is that after making 120 monthly and on-time consolidated and reduced payments you remaining balance will be forgiven. – Source

Not all student loans are eligible for consolidation. Private student loans are excluded. Loans that are eligible to be consolidated can be found here.

Student Loan Resources

You can use the following student loan resources to help reorganize, discharge or forgive your student loan payments.

The Overall Guide to Dealing With Student Loan Debt

Get Help For Your Student Loan Problem

Discharge Your Student Loans in Bankruptcy

Getting Sued Over a Student Loan

Student Loan Forgiveness and Discharge Information

Watch Out for Student Loan Assistance Programs

Student Loan Consolidation Information

Specific Federal Student Loan Repayment Program Information

Maybe College Isn’t the Answer

Direct Loan payments that qualify include:

  • The Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan;
  • The Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan;
  • The Standard Repayment Plan, with a 10 year repayment period; and
  • Any other Direct Loan repayment plan, but only payments that are at least equal to the
    monthly payment amount that would have been paid under the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period may be counted toward the required 120 monthly payments. (February 3, 2010)

And you may actually be able to have zero dollar loan payments count towards your required 120 payments. If you qualify for a zero monthly payment under the Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment programs then those payments, or lack thereof, will actually count. Pretty cool, huh?

For more information on this program read this publication by the U.S. Department of Education.

National Defense Student Loan Discharge

If you helped to pay for college with a National Defense Student Loan it may be partially discharged.

Recipients of a National Direct Student Loan and Perkins Loan may receive partial cancellation of their loan for their service in the United States Armed Forces if his/her military service was for a full year in a hostile fire/imminent danger pay area.

If you believe that you may qualify for cancellation of your loan(s) due to your military service as described above, you should send a copy of your DD214 (discharge form) and letter of explanation to the agency servicing your loan.

Waiver of Interest

Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, active duty military members may be eligible for no accrual of interest on their student loans for up to 60 months.

In addition, in the event that a borrower chooses to obtain a consolidation loan for the purposes of using the no accrual of interest for active duty service members program offered under section 455(o), the Secretary shall offer a Federal Direct Consolidation loan to any such borrower who applies for participation in such program. – Source

Eligible military members include those:

  • serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency
  • performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency
  • serving in an area of hostilities in which service qualifies for special pay under section 310 of title 37, United States Code.

Have More Tips and Information?

We want to continue to help and assist members of the military with information on dealing with student loans so please post any tips and information you can to help in the comments section, here.

How to Discharge Your Student Loans if You Are in the Military, Police, or Teacher
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • TECHsmart

    It was a good concept. Loan forgiving program, helps most of the military families. While studying the students get educational loans from several sources. But while completing heir studies they found themselves stuffed with the loan dues. Such loan discharging programs would be a great relief from their debts.  

  • Carrcian

    I don’t agree with this at all.  So the taxpayer get to foot the bill for the military member student loan debt?  Do you have any idea how much they make while on station and do you have any idea of how much money they are pulling in when deployed?  If they fill out a form for going OCONUS, their accounts no longer accrue interest until they return.  The military member’s biggest issue is their base pay is 100% disposable.  They don’t pay for housing, utilities, healthcare, get ridiculously low rates for car insurance etc.  Yes they put their lives on the line for this country but until all their income and hidden perks are transparent, you will see its not they cannot afford to pay their student loans, its that they cant afford their brand new SUV, big screen TV, eating out at nice restaurants several times a week, multiple kids, vacations, the latest cell phone etc in addition to paying off their own debts. 

    • ConcernedNavy

      Wow this is interesting. I’d like to know what military YOU’RE referring to. I’ve been in the military for 3 years and have still not had the means to buy an SUV, big screen or even eat out at nice restaurants often. Being honest, I make around $1,300 before taxes every 2 weeks. Stationed in the DC area, so rent is $1230 a month. There’s one pay check gone right there. The other one goes towards food, car payment (I drive a Chevy Cobalt. Not even the sport. Real manly, I know), car insurance ($126 a month. Never had an accident), health care (Which we do pay into), life insurance, phone bill (Sprint because Verizon is too expensive), and cable/internet (The cheapest package Comcast offers). Now, I am a single guy. Don’t have to worry about feeding a family (Which the military does not give you extra for. They only give you a little more for rent so you have enough space. Even that is extremely limited). If it wasn’t for my parents still helping me, I wouldn’t be able to pay my loans on time. All this, while working extremely long hours. Just fyi as well, the food on base we do pay for. On the side of the boxes they come in, it reads “Consumption only suitable for military and prison”… That’s a shore command. Think of how much better it is on a ship ;)

      • Carrcian

        Concerned Navy,  I used a handy little tool called the OSD Military Compensation Website.  Unable to tell if you are enlisted or an officer but under the assumption you are a 2nd Lt equivalent, not really familiar with Navy ranks.  In the AF, a LT with 3 years in is automatically an O2, your basic bay for the DC area is 50,486 annual or 4,207 monthly.  Your BAH is $1,845 (rent and basic utilities) monthly & your BAS (food) is 223.84.  I have worked with the military for around 15 years, lived in 3 countries, and PCS’d six times.  I have not seen those statements on the boxes but I don’t frequent the on base dining hall, off limits to Civies.  I have walked thru the dining hall and seen a pretty nice layout of food being offered however if its like the O’club, you have my sympathies.   As for long hours, I have seen very few military work long hours.  I have heard them say they worked long hours but almost always its when its to their advantage.  However if you are at the Pentagon, then I would believe you as I hear 12 hours is standard.  Lastly in all fairness, I did hear the Army only reimburses you for what you have a receipt for.  I don’t know how the Navy does it.  I know the AF still gives you a lump sum and what you don’t spend is a tax free bonus.  Some AF claim that they are like the Army but their behavior of having four officers in a 2 bedroom apartment tells a different tale.

      • ConcernedNavy

        Carrcian, I’m an E-4 in the Navy. BAH is $1230 a month and BAS is $330. You are looking at officer numbers, which are much higher than any enlisted will receive (Unless you’re a high ranking enlisted that has been in for a long time, then your pay will be comparable to a lower ranking officer) Understand that the number of enlisted personnel is vastly greater than officers. Anyways, as far as long hours go, you are basing your opinions on shore duty alone. If you are on a ship, you work shift, and are on call 24/7. You work 7 days a week. The standard 40 hour work week simply does not exist. I will also point out that while some officers do have student loans to repay, the majority of military that have that debt are enlisted. The military has many officer programs that pay for your schooling, so the debt they would incur simply does not exist. If you are basing your opinions on the salaries of officers, then I would be inclined to agree that they do get paid well and could probably pay off their debt pretty easily. I will also say that the AF is a little different than the other branches. They have a higher standard of living. When I was stationed in Florida, the AF personnel received a monthly allowance of close to $300 simply due to the fact that they had to live in a Navy barracks. They called it a standard of living allowance. 

  • Mid Brown

    Also submit questions, stories, and get in touch with other military veterans, family members through this website:  This is a grassroots organization that has provided increased public awareness of the inequities of student and parent plus loans in general across the United States. Anyone is welcome to post comments, ask questions, obtain help with resources.

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