Military Scholarships and Loan Repayment Programs

With the cost of a professional college education on the rise, many students are finding themselves overwhelmed by debt. The Armed Forces can help you manage your college debt with financial aid and special loan repayment programs for qualified students.

What financial aid does the government offer for military service or for family members of military personnel?

The VA offers education benefits for veterans and for their widows and dependents on its GI Bill site.

Many people are not aware that the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard can offer you special programs for repaying student debt.  If you have William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans, you may be eligible to have these loans totally forgiven by joining the military.

Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty

The Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty program offers military student loan repayment assistance to people on active duty. Among other requirements, you must enlist for at least three years and score 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

If you qualify, the Army will pay up to 33.33 percent of your principal balance each year for three years. You could receive up to $65,000 in loan assistance. Note that you can only use this money to pay off federal student loans, such as Direct, FFEL, and Perkins Loans. Private loans aren’t eligible.  Please check out our Army Dental Corps Benefit Presentation

Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program

If you’re in a qualifying Military Occupational Speciality (MOS), you could get assistance through the Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program. You must enlist for at least six years and have loans before you go on active duty.

This program will pay 15 percent of your loan balance for up to $20,000. It applies primarily to federal student loans, not to private ones.

Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program

The Health Professions Loan Repayment Program helps doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals on active duty or in the Army Reserve. Qualifying borrowers can receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years. This $120,000 in military loan forgiveness could go a long way toward paying off medical or dental school loans.

Prior Service Soldier Loan Repayment Program

Army Reserve soldiers with prior military service can receive up to $50,000 toward student loan payments. You can request more information about student loan forgiveness for veterans through the U.S. Army website.

National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program

Members of the National Guard could receive up to $50,000 in military loan forgiveness. You must enlist for a minimum six-year term of service.

Navy Student Loan Repayment Program

If you’re in the Navy, you could receive up to $65,000 in student loan repayment assistance. The Navy program helps sailors in the first three years of service.

Air Force College Loan Repayment Program

The Air Force College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is available to any person enlisting with past student loan debt. It awards up to $10,000, made in yearly payments of 33.33 percent of the debt or up to $1,500 — whichever is higher.  For more details, please see our Presentation.

Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps Loan Repayment Program

If you join the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, you could get up to $65,000 in student loan repayment assistance. You’ll receive payments over a three year period after your first year of service as a JAG officer.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Service to our country qualifies borrowers for one of the most popular student loan forgiveness programs — Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program forgives all student loan debt after the borrower makes 120 qualifying payments while working full-time with the military or another qualifying non-profit.  Check out our Understanding Public Service Loan Forgiveness Presentation presentation.

Note that deferred payments do not count towards the 120 monthly payments and might extend your timeline to receive PSLF.

Lower your monthly payments with an income-driven repayment plan

Another way to manage your monthly payments is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. These plans take into account your current discretionary income and family size in order adjust your monthly payments accordingly. In some cases, your new monthly payment could be as low as $0.

For example, Income-Based Repayment is one of the most popular plans. It limits your monthly payments to 10 or 15 percent of your discretionary income and results in forgiveness of any remaining debt after 25 years.

Note that this option does come with possible drawbacks. So always consider the pros and cons of income-driven repayment before enrolling.