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What Are My Student Loan Forgiveness Options in the Air Force?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I am a senior in college about to graduate with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and commission into the U.S. Airforce. I will have about $100,000 in student loans to start paying off when I graduate.

Are there any debt forgiveness programs in the military for new officers?

Corey

Answer:

Dear Corey,

I recently answered another reader question, and it has a lot of helpful information in it. See What Are My Military Active Duty Student Loan Forgiveness Options?

While that answer was for a member of the Army, it does demonstrate there are some options available.

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On paper, the program that potentially has the most significant benefit is the federal student loan Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Your military service would count towards total loan forgiveness.

You would consolidate your current federal student loans into a new Direct Loan and then elect to repay it using an Income-Driven Repayment. This will give you a payment based on your income and potentially increase your loan balance during repayment.

However, after you have made 120 compliant payments, the balance of your student loans will be forgiven tax-free.

As long as payments on federal loans are suspended, as they are now, the suspended payments count towards forgiveness.

All that being said, the PSLF program seems to be a political hot potato. Under the Trump administration, the program was a debacle, and most people were refused forgiveness. Under the Biden administration, people can get forgiveness for PSLF. I have no idea what havoc future political administrations might wreak on PSLF.

The Air Force does have a 100 percent forgiveness program if you are on active duty in hostile fire or imminent danger pay areas. The Air Force page says this applies to Perkin’s loans and mentions Direct Loans. See this page. Before counting on that program, I would advise you triple check to see if your loans apply or by consolidating them into a new Direct Loan, they would then be eligible.

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