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If you serve or have served your country in one of the armed forces, then you are eligible for various types of educational financial aid. The options differ if you are in school, if you have already graduated but have not yet enlisted, or if you are on active duty or a veteran. Family members of veterans are also eligible for educational benefits. Let’s find how you can access the various student loans for military personnel.
While In School
While you are still studying, you might consider a military scholarship to reduce how much you are borrowing to pay for school. The most popular option is a Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard all have programs honored by many colleges and universities across the country.
ROTC scholarships vary based on length, eligibility, and service requirements, so it’s best to check with your local recruiter. In some instances, like the Navy ROTC, you can even get a full four year scholarship.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
This program allows for the forgiveness of loans for those who work in public service jobs, such as the military. Under this plan, if you make 120 monthly payments, then the remaining balance on your student loan is forgiven.
Loans that qualify for forgiveness include:
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan
If you have other federal loans such as FFEL Program Loans and Federal Perkins Loan, you might be able to qualify for this plan by consolidating your student loans under a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Benefits For Veterans – The GI Bill
For veterans, there are various educational benefits available through GI Bill programs. Even family members can take advantage of these sources of aid. The specific benefits depend on when and where you served, among other factors. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a detailed explanation of veteran’s benefits.
For Families Of Deceased Veterans
Families of deceased veterans are also eligible for student aid. To qualify, you must have been less than 24 years old or enrolled in school at least part-time at the time of your parent or guardian’s death. Federal Pell Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are available under these provisions.
Other Benefits For Military Personnel
Other types of benefits include:
- Service Members Civil Relief Act – For those who took out loans prior to entering the military
- Direct Loan Relief
- Active Duty Deferment
- Called to Duty While Enrolled In School
For more information about these benefit programs, visit the Federal Student Aid website.
Just like anyone else, military personnel and veterans can refinance their student loans by paying off an old loan with a new loan that has a lower interest rate.