Over 47,000 military and veterans will see some of their federal student loan debt erased thanks to a new policy announced by the Ministry of Education on Friday.
“The brave men and women in military uniform serving our country can now focus on getting their jobs done and returning home safely, rather than completing additional paperwork to gain access to their hard-earned benefits,” said the chief operating officer of the Federal Service helping students by Richard Cordray in a statement announcing the change.
“We will try to reduce red tape among the military where possible.”
Under previous legislation, any troops stationed in war zones overseas and in enemy firing areas could have a percentage on many federal student loans. The rules include student loans first disbursed after October 1, 2008.
For some people, this additional percentage can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. But until now, the cancellation of these additional fees required the issuance of long documents confirming past military service and deployment.
Ministry of Education officials said in recent years, fewer than 5,000 military personnel and veterans have been asked to waive interest payments.
The new policy change is shifting the burden from veteran students and soldiers to federal officials. Under a new data exchange agreement announced by the Department of Defense and Education, federal processors can identify federal student loan borrowers who are on active duty by matching records with the personal files of the US Department of Defense.
“As a result, the department can automatically provide student loan interest rate benefits to eligible military personnel,” the education officials said in a statement. “Today’s announcement means that service personnel are not required to take any action to obtain interest rates.”
Loan recipients should see that the changes are automatically reflected in their invoices. Individuals with questions can contact Department of Education officials with questions regarding the benefit.
The move will not wipe out all of the troop and veteran student loan debt, only additional interest charges. Earlier this week, administration officials announced plans to write off all student loan arrears for an estimated 300,000 Americans with severe disabilities.
In a statement, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, California, praised the announcement as “a necessary relief for those who have served our country so nobly.”
More information on the changes is available at Department of Education website…
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House in Military Times. He has covered Washington DC since 2004 with a focus on military and veteran policy. His work has received numerous awards, including the 2009 Polk Award, the 2010 National Headlining Award, the IAVA Award for Leadership in Journalism and the VFW News Media Award.
More in education and transition