Many people find themselves awash in student loan debt and looking for a way to climb out from underneath them. The good news is that there are many student loan forgiveness programs out there. If you are a member of the military services, for example, you can get a significant portion of your debt forgiven.
If you are considering enlisting in any branch of the service, keep in mind that the following student loan debt forgiveness programs exist. You need to see which ones apply to your particular situation, or branch of service, and formally apply to get into the program. After that, a portion of your student loan debt is forgiven each year you serve in the armed forces. Here’s a quick look at the major forgiveness programs open to enlisted personnel.
SCRA: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
In this program, which any enlisted person can join, you won’t get a big chunk of your loan forgiven, but you can have interest rates capped while you are in the military. The cap rate is 6 percent on any kind of loan you have. That includes home loans, auto loans and any other formal indebtedness. All you need to do is sign up for the program, prove your enlistment status and you’re done. Note that both you and any loan co-signers are eligible for the interest rate cap.
CLRP: The Military College Loan Repayment Program
This huge program is one of the main sources of student loan forgiveness for military personnel. No matter your branch of service, you will still have to pay interest on the loan, but a large amount of the principal will be forgiven. How much are we talking about? Well, it is different for each branch, but most branches will require you to serve for at least one full year before getting benefits. After that, your military branch will forgive up to one-third of your loan balance for each year you serve, with caps of between $10,000 and $65,000 in total forgiveness. Even reserve members get in on the loan forgiveness program, but with a generally lower cap amount and a lower per-year percentage of forgiveness.
Forgiveness for Medical Professionals Who Join the Military
Dentists, doctors and a few other medical professionals can get up to $40,000 of student loan debt forgiven for each year they serve in the military. Again, each branch has different specifications, but overall, the forgiveness amounts are quite high and have much larger caps than for non-medical enlistees.
National Defense Discharge
This program, officially known as the National Defense Student Loan Discharge plan, allows some loan forgiveness for former military personnel who were in the line of fire for up to one year. To apply, check with someone with the branch of the military in which you served, or just go to whoever handles your student loan and ask for an application form. Don’t expect to have your entire loan balance forgiven, but the program can be a good resource for people who have already served in the military and are not considering re-enlisting.