If you are considering a college education through the military, there are a few basics about the student loan repayment plan that you should be aware of. Joining the military offers many perks, but their student loan repayment program is one bonus near the top of the list. Today, all branches of the US military are major financiers of a college education. Besides the valuable experience you can gain with the armed forces, you have the possibility of collecting a regular paycheck and watching your debt load disappear while serving your country. Here's what you need to understand about the basics around this repayment plan.
The program differs a little bit from branch to branch, but the basic details remain largely the same. The military's student loan repayment programs are designed as an added incentive to get new recruits to enlist and stay. Of course, benefits tend to be higher for graduates already carrying student loan debt, and some may be eligible for officer positions, which come with higher salaries and added perks.
All branches of the military provide fairly generous loan repayment, though caps are placed on the total amount that can be paid out during a service member's career with Uncle Sam. For instance, the Army and Navy both set their limits at $65,000. Under many circumstances, this is more than enough to pay off an entire loan balance, or significantly reduce even six figure debts. The Air Force pays out less, offering recruits only $10,000 throughout their career, perhaps because most air force roles pay significantly more than jobs in fellow military branches.
It's important to realize that payment doesn't happen all at once. Loan repayment is set up as an incentivized process. Right now, all branches of the military pay out 33.3% toward the principal remaining on your loan after each year of active duty service you've completed in their ranks. For smaller loans, $1,500 after each year is granted. These numbers are enough to accurately illustrate how powerful this program can be. With just two to three years of service, you can watch the debt incurred from a full four years of university studies melt away, all while paying little to none of your own money.
These excellent programs are designed for active duty recruits who have formally gained admittance into the service program of their choice. Just like loan repayment conditions, the qualifications differ, but look mostly the same. The US Army has the most specific terms, requiring enlistees to decline enrollment in the GI Bill, pass a basic score on their entrance exam, serve in a critical function, and formalize the agreement in writing. For the Navy and Air Force, recruiters will determine eligibility on a case by case basis, and the agreement is usually formalized in these branches too.
Don't forget to examine the military's outstanding opportunities for furthering your education. Besides repaying existing loans, serving several years entitles you to special benefits for pursuing further college courses or higher education. Joining the military is always based around a mutually beneficial relationship. While you train, protect, and fight, you'll be rewarded with life changing experiences, and getting a major leg up in paying down education debt is one of the finest.