More and more at GetOutOfDebt.org 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.
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.
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21 thoughts on “How to Discharge Your Student Loans if You Are in the Military, Police, or Teacher”
Can you provide more background on National Defense Student Loan Discharge? I recently returned from my second tour in Afghanistan and now appear to qualify for this program.
What department administers this program and what law or regulatory guidance created it? I have called all three of my loan servicers, the Department of Education, and the VA. None of them seem able to provide any concrete assistance and I cannot find the program referenced on any official dot gov or dot mil domains. Where is it directed that I would be required to provide a DD214? That is perhaps appropriate guidance for activated guard or reservists once they complete a deployment, but I am active duty Air Force and will not get that for another 15 years at least.
Thank you for your assistance.
All mentions to the program look like more rumor than fact. I spent quite a few hours researching the claims and can’t even confirm if such a program exists. See my post at https://getoutofdebt.org/116261/national-defense-student-loan-discharge-looks-like-fiction-fact
Is there any help or forgiveness program for an enlisted with over $40K in school loans through the Stafford loan who has been denied the LFP because it isn’t a “direct” Stafford loan? We are being told my husband doesn’t qualify nor does his huge school loan debt and the idea of paying it all back soon is terrifying. He’s been in five years and the loans are deferred, but he’s still accruing interest as we go.
He didn’t qualify for the enlisted three year payout and he doesn’t qualify for the forgiveness program due to the loan type. So what can we do? He was lied to when he enlisted and now we’re stuck floundering.
Do you have any help, sir?
He should consider consolidating his loans into a new Direct Loan and then selecting an income driven repayment program to make forward payments. Only 120 payments made after that will count towards loan forgiveness.
How can you title this “How to Discharge Your Student Loans if You Are in the Military, Police, or Teacher” and not actually tell us how? It’s just ads and links. An update and instructions on how to actually apply would be really helpful or maybe change the title. I know it’s 5 years old, but it’s at the top of Google search. Consider updating this resource please.
Thanks for your comment but it seems pretty clear to me. As it says in the article, you need to investigate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and also look at the National Defense Student Loan Discharge. More information on PSLF can be found at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
You can also read many more of my articles on PSLF at https://getoutofdebt.org//tag/public-service-loan-forgiveness
Oh, I spent hours reading away on it around the internet. There are a lot of links to resources, but it’s not a very clear and cut post. I still appreciate the work and it’s goals, so for that, thank you.
Doing additional research is a good thing, especially with the growing issues surrounding PSLF. The recent ABA case is very disturbing. See https://getoutofdebt.org//100645/lawsuit-american-bar-association-demonstrates-mess-come-public-service-loan-forgiveness-student-loans
Make sure you study the hell out of the PSLF program, make sure your loans are conforming, and make sure you get annual certifications that your current employment qualifies. Even that may not be enough. This year, 2017, marks the first year loans will be eligible for forgiveness and I would not be at all surprised if rejections for discharge start flowing.
For years now there have been proposed bills in Congress to make forgiveness happen along the ten year path instead of a hope at the end. All of those efforts have not succeeded. As it stands right now, PSLF is a program, not a guarantee.
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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.
Carrcian should join the military then if the pay is that good. People always try to look at numbers. One thing they forgot to take into account is TAXES. Hmmmmmm. I will say this to Carrcian also, I retired from the Army after 20 years as a CW3. Out of those 20 years I was deployed in a combat zone for all of 11 1/2 years total. Missed my children growing up along with other family situations that we just completely miss out on because we are defending our nation so people like Carrcian are able to get on the internet and look at such things as, OSD Military Compensation Websites. With that being said, military personnel should NEVER have to worry about any type of college expenses. If people don’t like what I said, I always know a guy that’s hiring. Step into our boots for just one deployment please. This coming from an airborne ranger also. Good luck and tell your children and family you hope to see them again.
Carrcian should join the military then if the pay is that good. People always try to look at numbers. One thing they forgot to take into account is TAXES. Hmmmmmm. I will say this to Carrcian also, I retired from the Army after 20 years as a CW3. Out of those 20 years I was deployed in a combat zone for all of 11 1/2 years total. Missed my children growing up along with other family situations that we just completely miss out on because we are defending our nation so people like Carrcian are able to get on the internet and look at such things as, OSD Military Compensation Websites. With that being said, military personnel should NEVER have to worry about any type of college expenses. If people don’t like what I said, I always know a guy that’s hiring. Step into our boots for just one deployment please. This coming from an airborne ranger also. Good luck and tell your children and family you hope to see them again soon.
HOOAH! You are right on the money. I wager my good leg and right nut that Carrcian would not only never last through training alone, but by some miracle he did would piss his pants and end up getting himself killed within the first 20 minutes of his first tour. That is if he had the balls to actually stand up for this country!
I am so sick and tired of hearing this civs run there mouth about things they read online, hear on the news, or think up on their own because they think they have the right to have an opinion on the subject.
The ONLY people that have a RIGHT to say anything about the benefits and pay of the military SHOULD be those that have actually served…everyone else is fubar and are lucky to have the rights and freedoms that my Brothers and I sacrificed LIFE AND LIMBS for.
So the next time, Carrcian, you feel like your opinion matters on such topics…think real hard…and remember you have not done shit!
“As for long hours, I have seen very few military work long hours.”
I work a lot on my ship, not to include duty days, where I stay on the ship for 24 hours and stand multiple watches.
I work probably over 60 hours a week and it really hurts me to see you say something stupid like this.
There was a time where for 3 weeks I worked in 100 degree weather,doing topside preservation from sun up to sun down, so 0630-2100 with only a 30 minute break for lunch and dinner. I was so tired I nearly passed out from both exhaustion and back breaking work in the heat.
Now that’s here in the states, that does not even include all the crap I do when I am deployed.
Ohh and you want to know what I had for lunch today? FOOD FROM THE SHIP! which consisted of a corn dog and meat sauce, because they ran out of food while I was working topside.
You know what I got for compensation, a yelling saying I should have came to lunch before they ran out of food.
Now I love the Navy and I love serving, but we damn well earned our benefits. The Government is going to take as much as we can from us and we deserve little breaks here and there. We don’t live normal lives and we make a lot of sacrifices to do jobs no one wants to do.
Now if you have a problem with government spending, look somewhere else to cut. We do our part every day, we work our hours, we earn our benefits and unfortunately a lot of Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Coastguardsmen don’t get the privilege of using them.
Not only do we earn these benefits and pay, we actually pay for it. Our paychecks aren’t tax free…
Yeah, what great pay you’re refering to??? How much money do you think an average sergant makes putting his/her life on the line?? Ask one first and then make comments!!! Or maybe you should go to war if the money is sooo great! Ignorant idiot!!
You’re welcome for being in a free enough society that you are allowed to openly voice your opinion. Unfortunately you obviously have no idea of what 20 plus years of military service is like. You risk everything for your country, you are separated from your family more than 50% of the time, when you go to work in the morning you never know if you’re coming home that night. All so ingrates can voice their opinion. Then there is life after the military. That life where you live in constant physical pain every day until it becomes debilitating. Pain that is caused by the physical trauma caused even by training, let alone the actual missions. Then there are the violent outburst because after that many years you can’t handle the reality that you are no longer able to correct someone’s stupidity. Then there is the breakdowns when your friends have to escort you away and just sit with you with their arm on your shoulder because, as a grown adult, you are crying your eye’s out for no reason at all, It just jumps up on you. Then when that veteran tries to do something for themselves for the first time in their life, and most of the community support them, they find that there are those that have no concern about how that veteran has no chance at a normal life because they chose a noble mission. To protect and defend the country they love. God forbid that the country pay for one of the few things left that may help a veteran feel like a person again. By the way, when a student’s cost of education is forgiven, that means that it’s forgiven, not charged to the taxpayers. It’s no different than when a medical facility or an attorney give free service to the indigent. This is still the greatest country in the world, and believe it or not, there are those that don’t mind showing their appreciation for it and have no problem with helping others. Go back to your little self centered world, go shopping, and forget about the other citizens this country.
Veterans do sacrifice an unbelievable amount. No doubt. But I just want to clarify the one statement about student loan forgiveness. Public Service Student Loan forgiveness programs are not taxable but nearly every other student loan forgiveness program is currently taxable as normal income.
Also submit questions, stories, and get in touch with other military veterans, family members through this website: ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com. 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.