Whether you’re an active-duty Service member or are a National Guardsman or Reservist, be sure to take advantage of federal and private student loan protections and resources available to you.
1. Student loan reduction:
• While on active duty you can reduce your student loan interest rate to 6 percent through the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA). You can even have the reduction applied retroactively to cover your entire period of active-duty military service.
• For federal student loans, this reduction should be automatic.
• For private student loans, the reduction must be requested through the loan servicer (a copy of your military orders may be needed.)
• If you’re serving or have served in an area of hostilities and received special pay on or after Oct. 1, 2008, your federal student loans qualify for a 0 percent interest rate reduction for up to 60 months.
2. Military deferment:
• You can request deferment when you are called to active duty during a time of war, other military operations, or during a national emergency.
• While federal student loans permit deferment, not all private loans do. Check with your servicer.
• Be aware that interest may continue to accrue during the deferment.
3. Loan forgiveness:
• Borrowers with a Federal Perkins Loan who serve in an area of hostilities for more than 12 months straight may be eligible to have their loan balance reduced. You can apply for retroactive reduction, so be sure to call your servicer.
• Public Service Loan Forgiveness allows Service members and veterans who have served on Active Duty and meeting certain requirements to have their federal loans forgiven after 120 qualifying payments.
• Income-Based Repayment (IBR): IBR sets a low monthly payment based on your income and family size. If you have older loans, your loan payment will be capped at 15 percent of your discretionary income.
• Pay As You Earn (PAYE): the PAYE plan caps your monthly payment at 10 percent of your discretionary income. If you think you might be eligible, learn more about who qualifies for PAYE here.
• Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): REPAYE also caps your payments at 10 percent of discretionary income. You can get a lower payment if your federal student loan debt is high compared to your income. Learn more about who is eligible and the differences between these plans here.
Learn more about the tools and resources available to you in paying off your student loans by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Photo by Cpl. Thomas Bricker