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  • Writer's pictureMarcus P. Miller, CFP®, MBA

Military student loan relief

You may have heard of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). It's a program that allows people to waive (pay off) their student debt if they work for non-profits or the government. This includes the military.


For a limited time, there is a waiver that will simplify and improve the process to apply for PSLF. If you have served on active duty for 10 years (or close to it), this article is worth your time. Note: The waiver ends 31 Oct 2022.


There are a few general rules for the PSLF program.

  1. Make sure you work for a qualified employer (The US Military is)

  2. Accumulate 10 years of payments (you can apply if you are less than 10 years, but the relief will happen after 10 years of payments). This is measured as 120 payments.

  3. Make sure you have converted your loans into a Direct Consolidated Loan. This can be done as part of the PSLF application. It should be an income-driven repayment plan.

  4. Apply for PSLF before the waiver expires (31 Oct 2022).


What about the Covid payment suspension?

The months you have not been paying due to covid will count towards the 120 payments. This is a special consideration as part of the waiver. Other periods of non-payment, such as forbearance, in-school, and bankruptcy do not count.


Types of loans

Student loans from private lenders do not count. All other pubic loans may be consolidated into a Direct Loan. If you apply and consolidate prior to October 31st, 2022 then any payments made as part of the loans prior to the consolidation will count towards the 120 payments. This is a critical feature of the waiver, as typically the 10-year clock starts after consolidation. This makes now a perfect time to apply and at least get credit for the payments prior to consolidation.


Payments

The payments must be made under an Income-Based Repayment Plan. This IBR is tied to your income and may increase the payments. Many calculators online can tell you if this will benefit you. It is possible that under the IBR plan you will pay off the loans prior to 10 years (and thus not have anything to forgive). However, for those with large student loans and low income this program can save tens of thousands.




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