Military Student Loan Forgiveness

Joining the military has a number of benefits. Now you can get your loans forgiven with the help of your service in the military. Learn more about miliatry student loan forgiveness and the forgiveness programs available to you and lower your monthly payments.

Updated by Priya Shah on 19th December 2019

Military loan forgiveness and repayment program is a way to help pay debt faster. Choosing a career path as a military officer is very tough, challenging and is dangerous too at the same time. It can be a life-changing decision too if you are serving as US armed forces, the opportunity offered by them are rarely offered by others. 

You can choose a forgiveness program based on the branch of armed service you are serving in. There are a number of reasons to join the armed forces, getting your loans forgiven is just an additional benefit.

Table of contents

What is student loan forgiveness?

Student Loan Forgiveness means you are free from paying the remaining amount of your loan and not the entire amount you had borrowed. After a certain number of payments, which are qualified you can get the remaining balance of your loan forgiven. 

Forgiveness for a loan requires certain procedures in order to qualify for it. The situation may lead to forgiveness, cancellation or discharge of the federal loan balance. We all often wish that our loan may disappear, so under that, there are various situations that the government may cancel some part of the loan as forgiveness (i.e after 120 payment probably). 

It should be noted that private student loans are not eligible for forgiveness but only federal student loans are eligible, and only federal student loan is probably granted for forgiveness. Some consideration for the loan forgiveness is:

  • You must perform volunteer work

  • Must be a military servicer.

  • One should be teaching or practicing medicine for various types of people.

  • Must meet other criteria specified for the forgiveness program.


Military student loan forgiveness program

Military student loan forgiveness programs are for those students who have accomplished their graduation and want to serve the nation by joining the US military then Military College Loan Repayment Program could be a reason to enlist. 

As private student loans are not eligible for forgiveness, student loan forgiveness don't cover a loan interest but still have been paid on own by your pocket. If you are discharged before the time allotted and enlisted in different services you may have to pay back some payments made towards the loan.

But if you want to qualify you must have some experience before enlisting. Like every program, the branch has its own specific service, so it’s always best to recommend your local recruiting office to be more satisfied are make your loan qualify. 


Programs on various branches as student loan forgiveness programs

Based on the branch you serve in the armed forces you can opt for a loan forgiveness program. Here is a list of programs you can opt for - 

Army student loan repayment program

They have a specific program called the Army Student Loan Repayment Program which is issued for up to 33.33% of the current principal balance of soldiers federal loan annually, and $1500 whichever is greater after the completion of one of service.

In Order to fulfill the eligibility reach out to local recruiter with the enlisting time period of three years and must score( >50) to fuel up and to qualify the Armed service vocational aptitude battery.  

NOTE: The money can be used for paying off your federal student loans like the direct loan, FFEL, and Perkins loan(expired in September 2017 but still qualify for loan assistance). Therefore private student loan is not eligible.

Navy student loan repayment program

They are unlike army student programs through Navy Student Loan Repayment Program. They are also issued for up to 33.33% of the current principal balance of the soldier’s federal loan annually, after the completion of one year of service.  The benefit is cap out at $10000 in the loan forgiveness where you must enlist for a minimum four-year in order to qualify the eligibility requirement.

National guard student loan repayment program 

They have the National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program in order to qualify you must score 50 + in armed services, to enroll the eligible jobs through the guard, with a minimum of six years of services. The amount for the federal principle student loan received is $50000 whereas per your capability you can earn at least $7500 annually. 

Air force college loan repayment program

As per repayment for the air force college loan program, they are issued up to 33.33% of the current principal balance of the soldier’s federal student loan annually or $1500 whichever is higher in the first year of service. It is as similar to the navy’s program, benefits cap is at $10000 in total loan forgiveness. 

Coast guard loan repayment program

The repayment program Coast Guard Loan Repayment Program provides up to $30000 as federal loan forgiveness for the one who is qualified for the particular repayment program. In order to qualify the one must have the minimum contract of three years, with an amount of $10000 that is to be paid to the loan service provider for the year of service. 

CLRP for reserve servicemembers

This service is quite different than other where the army and navy officers do provide up to 15% or $15000 whichever is greater, only in federal loan for forgiveness annually for those individuals who are qualified and enlisting for the first time.  As you must have the commitment of 6 years of service, with the benefit capped at $20000. 

Health professions loan repayment program

This loan repayment program is especially for those who are actively working in medical fields, who are doctors, dentist, or any other qualifying health professionals those are interested in army reserve they can go for Health Professions Loan Repayment Program as an alternate for federal loan repayment. Borrowers who are qualified receive up to $40000 as per year for three years of service. And mostly reach your local recruiter for more information before you enlist. 

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

This service Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is an act of reducing and unburdening your loan by interest loan of 6% where our monthly payments are lowered to $222. That results in savings of $ 3112 over a period of 10 years.  being on duty if the student loan is obtained before enlisting. 

And the important thing is it is not just for a student loan but also include car loans, credit card bills, and mortgage. We can apply those savings as extra payments on the loan that will be cut for full-year from our repayment plan.

Eligibility for SCRA

Applying member and his cosigner should qualify the interest rate cap.

It applies to both federal and private loan 

Ways to apply

It can be processed by submitting a copy to your loan servicer

Or by requesting verification through an authorized military database.

Your loan must be recent than august 14, 2008. 


Military student loan discharge programs

What's better than reducing your monthly installments and payments or interest rates? Basically loan repayment assistance helps you pay off your loan. 

The veteran’s total and permanent disability (TPD) Discharge

The person with the long experience in any field likely to called veterans, if they get any injuries during their working term of service and have caused permanent disability, those can apply for the student loan discharge through the veteran’s TDP discharge program. That specifies that total loan forgiveness for the federal loan who cannot pay or are not able to pay the loan back. 

Eligibility for TPD

The injury must be proven that it was sustained during the term of service of the US military. 

Must ensure that  TDP should prevent from being employed. 

Must be able to earn the income needed for loan repayment.

How to apply for TDP discharge?

The family member should reach out US Department of Education and submit the application.

Documents on your TDP and the preventions need to be submitted, with the application. 


National defense student loan discharge(NDSLD)

Before you work for any company you definitely sign an agreement of terms of service either that may be for armed forces or any service company, after the completion of your time period of service and if you spend one extra year of service than you may qualify for national defense student loan discharge program. The shows the eligibility for the student. The amount of the discharge can vary as per terms and conditions.

Eligibility for NDSLD 

Service members are only designated to provide a federal student loan.

Must have served for one year or more.

Servicing must be in a deemed imminent danger or indirect fire

How to apply for NDSLD?

Submit the form from the department of defense the letter to your student loan servicer.

Must include an explanation of the service, the time spent, and the reasons.


Public service loan forgiveness   (PSLF)

Public service loan forgiveness is public-oriented which includes full-time employment by 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profitable or public institution, as US military. And it is not only for military members but includes doctors, government officers, and teachers too. It includes those who are working for underserved places with high requirements of medical professionals.

 Public service loan forgiveness also known as the most important and powerful program. Public service loans can be avail by those who have “direct” student loans and are working full time for a non-government organization or non-profitable organization for 10 years or more. According to data 27% psychologists work for secondary schools, 10% for medicals or hospitals, 7% for government nad half of the psychologists for PSLF.  this is not specific to military service, but have a lot of professions. 

The deferred payment does not count towards 120 successful monthly payments, but it must work for a qualifying employer for 10 years and may extend the timeline to receive public service loan forgiveness, many enlisted differ as per payments while serving. PSLF doesn’t count towards your taxable income for the year, that won’t raise your tax bill.

Eligibility for PSLF

An eligible borrower should make 120 successful and qualifying payments.

Federal direct loans are only eligible.

Qualified payment, qualified employers, and full-time employment are compulsory for PSLF  applicants.

The employment certification form should be completed and submitted as soon as possible.

How to apply PSLF?

After 120  successful qualifying payments the borrower can apply for PSLF.

It is not compulsory to make payments consecutive in order to apply. 

You can fill the form and submit a PSLF  application to get loan forgiveness. 


How to lower your monthly payments?

Here we have another way of managing our monthly payments that is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. These payment plans keep an eye on your current discretionary income and family size in order to adjust your monthly payments thoroughly. In some cases, your monthly payments can go beyond $0. 

So likely we have income-based repayment as one of the most popular plans, which limits the monthly payments to 10 to 15% of discretionary income and proceed for the forgiveness of remaining debt after 25 years.

Tensed for the paperwork and procedure required to maintain enrollment?

You don’t have to submit the written application or proof of income during the active duty periods, that means if your income or salary increases, you can go ahead and request to maintain the old, lower payments. 

Student loan repayment is an important phase for a borrower. It is advised to have an in-depth understanding of all the student loan repayment options available to take advantage of them and help build your credit score. Upon building your credit score you are perceived as a credible borrower.

Refinancing your student loans for decreasing interest rate

Refinancing your student loans is a great way to help manage your debt. The heavy debt that is to be paid is always a burden, including if you have a lot of loans that may be difficult to handle and tackle it. An effective way of getting rid of a bunch of loans is by refinancing your loans. Refinancing is the process of paying off all the existing loans by obtaining a new single loan with new terms and conditions that are relevant and more affordable to us. 

Refinancing applies to both federal and private loans.  Refinancing of loans basically goals to get a lower interest rate on the new loan. This process can save thousands of dollars in interest charges too. 

That might also extend your repayment period to lower monthly payments even more. Including there are several pros and cons related to the repayment process that is to be considered.  Like if you are refinancing your federal and private loan means you are permanently giving up access to government-backed benefits, including the income-driven repayment and public service loan forgiveness program.