The Navy Student Loan Repayment Program is Awesome

The U.S. Navy offers service members a proud and venerable tradition, having patrolled the seas since its inception in 1775.

Almost 250 years later, the Navy still offers its sailors a remarkable life experience, a chance to serve the country, and a host of benefits that make life somewhat easier for military personnel.

One perk that may appeal to Navy members is the Navy Loan Repayment Program, the cornerstone of the service’s student loan relief and forgiveness efforts.

The Navy Loan Repayment Program can pay up to $65,000 toward a service member’s student loans. That makes it well worth a closer look for Navy members looking for help paying down their college loan debt.

Who Qualifies for the Navy Program?

The Navy Loan Repayment Program is designed to pay federally guaranteed student loans, up to $65,000, for Navy personnel who qualify. The program is offered to members of the service’s Delayed Entry Program who eventually enlist in the Navy full time.

The Delayed Entry Program, also known as the Delayed Enlistment Program or inactive reserves, is meant to provide an onboarding experience before official enlistment. In the case of the Navy, a future sailor who signs on to delayed entry agrees to report for active duty in the next year. Currently, delayed-entry members can remain on inactive duty for 365 days. At that point, they must enlist for active duty in the Navy to receive student loan aid.

The Delayed Entry Program is only one hurdle Navy members must clear before becoming eligible for the loan repayment program. Service members must also meet the following criteria.

•   They must be “first time” military service members (meaning applicants have never served in the U.S. military before).
•   They must have a high school diploma.
•   They must have achieved a minimum score of 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which the Navy uses to measure a potential sailor’s IQ and aptitude. A test score of 35 will get an applicant into the Navy, but a higher score of 50 is needed to qualify for the loan repayment program.

How Navy Student Loan Repayment Works

Through the program, the Navy will pay 33.3% of a service member’s outstanding loan balance or $1,500—whichever is higher—for each year of naval service, up to three years. If the student loan balance falls below the 33.3% threshold and the borrower is in good standing with the Navy, the Navy will pay the remaining student loan balance.

Only specific federal student loans qualify for the loan repayment program. They are as follows:

Stafford loans, subsidized or unsubsidized. Also known as Direct Stafford Loans, these low-interest loans are made to qualified borrowers for tuition and other college costs. The funds come directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal PLUS loans. Otherwise known as Direct PLUS Loans, Direct Plus Loans are offered by the U.S. government to undergraduate and graduate students to cover tuition and college costs. In many cases, Direct PLUS Loans offer funds to college students to cover expenses not covered by other financial aid programs.

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Consolidation loans. These loans bundle multiple loans into a single loan, often at a lower interest rate.

Perkins loans. These are low-interest loans geared toward college students (both undergraduate and graduate) who demonstrate financial need. Congress stopped making Perkins student loans in 2018, but naval personnel may still have outstanding Perkins loan debt and thus are eligible for help from the Navy Loan Repayment Program.

A future Navy member may apply for the loan repayment program early in the service enrollment process. A Navy applicant is given the option to enroll in the program at the Military Entrance Processing Stations.

MEPS, the stations funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to enroll military service members, handle their applications, and assess their physical, mental, and emotional health to see if they’re fit for military service.

For student loan relief purposes, the Navy recruiter on hand (also known as the MEPS classifier) will process all of a Navy recruit’s paperwork, including loan repayment application documents, and submit them for processing.

What Documents Do You Need To Apply?

All documents are available at the MEPS recruiting center or through specific U.S. government websites and you need all of the following to apply:

•   A copy of the Loan Repayment Program Worksheet.
•   A copy of the Navy Enlistment Guarantee. The Navy Loan Repayment Program must be noted as a guarantee on the document.
•   A copy of the Statement of Understanding.
•   A copy of the Future Sailor’s National Student Loan Data System printout (available at the Department of Education’s website. When filing the data system form, the applicant will be assigned a PIN. By and large, it’s the same pin assigned to a financial aid applicant on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If the applicant doesn’t have a FAFSA® PIN, one will be assigned.
•   A copy of the Personalized Recruiting for Immediate and Delayed Enlistment
•   (PRIDE system) loan repayment text filed. This document must be printed out and signed by both the Navy classifier and the recruit applicant. PRIDE is one of the Navy’s recruiting platforms.
•   A copy of DD Form 2475, Annual Application for Student Loan Repayment, completed by the student loan lender.
•   A copy of the lender’s promissory note for each Parent PLUS loan, which clearly designates the student dependent on the note.

If you’re already serving in the military or served, Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a great option. The program is for those working for a qualified government organization (municipal, state, or federal) or many nonprofit organizations.

Filling Out the Loan Repayment Form

The key document when applying for the Navy Loan Repayment Program is DD Form 2475, which is broken down into four sections.

Section 1 is completed and approved by the recruiting officer (i.e., the verifying official). The section includes the naval office address and contact information so the lending institution can forward the proper paperwork. If the section is blank, the lender is under no obligation to complete the form. Basically, Section 1 includes the recruiter’s name and signature and the date.

Section 2 includes the applicant’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and Social Security number. This section is completed by the service member/applicant.

Section 3 includes the student loan data (including the borrower’s name, the loan amount, outstanding balance, the original date of the promissory note, the loan holder address, email and phone number, and the loan application number. The section also includes a box noting whether the student loan is in default or not, and asks for the name and address of the financial institution where the loan aid is to be sent.

Section 4 is a grid where more information on the loan can be included to expedite processing. Sections 3 and 4 are filled out by the student loan lending institution.

The Navy mandates that Form 2475 be completed, signed, and transmitted to the lending institution within 60 days of the recruit’s arrival in the Delayed Enlistment Program.

If the recruit/applicant doesn’t know his or her current student loan servicer, the U.S. Department of Education can lend a hand by phone or online.

Important Things to Know

Loan repayment program applicants may want to know several key features and rules governing the Navy student loan program.

Payment dates. Annual loan relief payments are issued to the service member on the original enlistment day during the first, second, and third year of enlistment in the Navy.

Payments are taxable. Any payments made by the Navy to the service member are taxed, as the Internal Revenue Service deems loan relief as taxable income in the year the money is paid out. Expect to have between 25% and 33% of the payment withheld in both federal and state taxes (the amount depends on the state where the applicant resides).

Lenders only. The Navy will not refund any loan amount that is paid out by other parties (aside from the qualified student loan lenders).

If a Navy recruit has any questions about the loan repayment program, the Navy urges him or her to contact the loan repayment manager at Naval Command. The manager is directly responsible for managing the loan program.

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Contact the manager at:

Navy Recruiting Command
Attn: LRP
5722 Integrity Drive, Building 784
Millington, TN 38054

Email: cnrc_lrp-eb@navy.mil

Other Ways to Repay Student Loans

Former students who are on the fence about a military commitment, who are struggling to make student loan payments, or who have more debt—or different debt—to pay off than a program covers have alternatives to military-supported repayment.

One is student loan refinancing with a lender like SoFi®. Someone with a combination of private and federal student loans can refinance both types into a single loan.

If you are thinking of taking advantage of federal programs like income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, refinancing may not be right for you because you’ll lose your eligibility for those programs.

But borrowers who choose to refinance may qualify for a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments. They’ll have only one payment a month and may be able to either lengthen or shorten the term.