Military members that find themselves suffering from debt should know that there are options to get your debts forgiven. When a military member is fighting for our country’s freedom, they should not have to come home to worry about student loan debt. There are options for eliminating debt, making debt more manageable and having debt forgiven or discharged. Here is what you need to know if you’ve served as a military member and are burdened with debt.
Military Members Options
If you’ve served in the military for the last ten years, you may be eligible to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. This program is designed to help military members or those that have worked a public service job get their loan fully discharged. As long as you worked full-time or at least 30 hours per week for the past ten years in one of these fields, you could qualify for debt forgiveness.
Public service jobs that could be eligible for this program include the following:
- Public education
- Public service for the disabled or elderly
- Early childhood education like state-funded pre-kindergarten, regulated or licensed childcare and Head Start
- Public library services or school library and services
- Law enforcement or public interest law services
- Emergency management or public safety
- Military service
If you worked as a public health provider such as a professional health care practitioner or in a health care support field, a nurse practitioner or a nurse in a clinical setting, this program would apply to you as well.
Typically the loan forgiveness program will only work with consolidated debts. The program helps military members that have used debt consolidation to lower their payments. The consolidated loan should be proven to have been paid on-time for 120 months at the reduced price. Once you’ve done this, they’ll forgive the remaining balance.
If you do not qualify for this program or simply want to seek other options, you could get a debt consolidation loan through a lender. Debt consolidation loans take your existing debts and combine them into one, manageable loan. The debt consolidation loan will lower your monthly payment and lower your interest. Now you only have to pay one creditor at the same time per month and you’ll owe less each month.
While typically private student loans won’t qualify for debt consolidation, here are the types of loan repayments that can qualify you for loan forgiveness programs:
- Standard repayment plans with a 10-year period
- Income based repayment plans
- Income contingent repayment plans
- Zero monthly payment based on income repayment plan
- Any other direct loan repayment plan if your payments are equal to the monthly payment under the standard repayment plan
Military members should speak to their lenders if they think they would qualify for a debt consolidation loan or debt forgiveness plan. Show proof of your full-time employment for the past ten years and proof of on-time payments in order to qualify for these programs. For many more options and help, check the veterans section of debt.org here.