Looking for the National Defense Student Loan Discharge Program – Read This


Dear Steve,

I served in the military and I was looking at the National Defense Student Loan Discharge. Two years ago you stated that you could not find information on it.

I want to know if the National Defense Student Loan Discharge program exists?



Dear Kimberly,

After I wrote my last piece on the National Defense Student Loan Discharge question, a commenter help solve the mystery.

I don’t there is actually an official program called National Defense Student Loan Discharge (NDSLD) because the discharge is already baked into the Perkins Loans that are eligible.

As I mentioned in my previous article, you would need to complete a DD214 and submit it to the loan servicer.

Perkins Loan -> National Defense Student Loan Discharge

The categories of service that count towards forgiveness are similar to those in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

According to the Department of Education, you can have up to 100 percent of your Perkins student loans forgiven after five years of eligible service whose active duty service began on or after August 14, 2008.

The Department of Education advises, “Application for cancellation or discharge of a Perkins Loan must be made to the school that made the loan or to the school’s Perkins Loan servicer. The school or its servicer can provide forms and instructions specific to your type of cancellation or discharge.” – Source

All of this confusion goes way back. The National Defense Student Loan program is actually a part of the National Defense Education Act of 1958. But there is no forgiveness or discharge component as part of that program. The National Defense Student Loan program was enacted to “strengthen the national defense and to encourage and assist in the expansion and improvement of educational programs to meet critical national needs; and for other purposes.” – Source

So it is reasonable to assume that along the way, people became confused between loans issued under the Act to help support our national defense and loans taken out by people serving in national defense.

See also  National Defense Student Loan Discharge Looks Like More Fiction Than Fact

So, all that being said, everything I can find in the law or from the Department of Education would direct you back to your school and/or servicer for assistance with forgiveness.


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2 thoughts on “Looking for the National Defense Student Loan Discharge Program – Read This”

  1. Steve
    You say that you need to “complete a DD214 but I have a DD214 so what exactly am I submitting. One website said I use the form and a self-written letter explaining myself. Here is the exact language I read, “The National Defense Student Loan Discharge (NDSLD) program is aimed towards military personnel who accessed a loan through the Perkins Loan or a National Direct Student Loan programs and who served at least one year in an area with imminent danger and/or direct fire. The program has not yet reported the forgiveness rate or the number of people who have taken advantage of it so far, but it is certainly worth a try. Candidates must fill in a special DD 214 discharge form and explain why they think they qualify for the program. The form and the explanatory letter must be sent to the company which services the loan.”

    I can find no information on what even qualifies for the program so I am not sure what my letter should read unless it is to state how my “imminent danger and/or direct fire” affected me and/or my country so I need them to forgive my student loans.



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