How Does the Student Loan Repayment Program Work in the Army?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

If you're a "career" member of the Armed Forces, you're entitled to several unique benefits. If you serve in active combat, you're likely to receive substantial financial assistance for any educational endeavors that you undertake in the future. You're also entitled to a robust program of health insurance. If you're married and have children, it's likely that your family will be eligible to sign up for this coverage as well. Depending upon the branch in which you serve, you might also be entitled to discounts on life insurance, investment accounts and other financial products through certain affiliated organizations.

If you attended college before joining the Army, you may also be eligible for the Armed Forces Student Loan Repayment Program. Reserved for active-duty members of the military, this program may entitle you to significant reductions to the outstanding balances on your student loans. Although it requires several intermediate steps and may take several months to take effect, you're likely to benefit immensely from this repayment plan. If you believe that you qualify, you should take steps to bolster your application before enlisting in the Army.

In order to qualify for the Armed Forces Student Loan Repayment Program, you'll need to inform your recruiter at some point during the enlistment process. Once he or she is made aware of your intention, it will be noted in your enlistment contract. If you're entitled to receive an enlistment bonus, this payment may be reduced.

Once you've signed up for the Student Loan Repayment Program, you'll need to call your student lenders and ask to place your loans on deferment. Since the Student Loan Repayment Program is designed to pay off the outstanding principal balances on your loans within a pre-determined period of time, you'll be permitted to stop making payments on these credit facilities. However, you'll need to inform your lenders of the Army's intention to pay off your loans. If you don't remember to take this step, you could create a tremendous amount of confusion and expose yourself to a temporary default.

Next, you'll need to visit your base's education department and obtain an application form. Your base's education department will keep one copy of this form and send another to each of your lenders. Once you're officially enrolled in the program, the Army will repay your student loans' principal balances within three years. However, you'll remain responsible for covering the interest that accrues on the balances during the repayment period.

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