Understanding Military Service Benefits and the College Loan Repayment Program

Joining the military offers a number of fringe benefits that entice young men and women to join the services. In addition to on-the-job training, a world of adventure, and many bonuses, the military also has a limited program that offers assistance for those entering the military with existing student loans.

Each branch of the service offers different incentives around the loan repayment program often referred to as the LRP (Loan Repayment Program). Each branch of service offers different loan repayment benefits and has different qualifications. They range from no repayment programs in the Marines to up to $65,000 in loan repayment over a three-year enlistment period in the Army or Navy, if you qualify.

How To Know If You Qualify: Qualifying Loans

In order to qualify for the LRP repayment you must have qualifying loans. These include Government Guaranteed loans such as Supplemental Loans (SLS), Parent Plus loans for the enlisted person, Stafford, Perkins and William P Ford Loans. Private loans or consolidated loans with a spouse do not qualify. For most students who attended an accredited college, your loans will qualify.


This is determined by each branch of service. There are a few things that are consistent across branches. These include:

  • The loan cannot be in default prior to enlisting or during the repayment period.
  • Interest payments are the responsibility of the student.
  • All payments are considered income and taxed in the year they are paid.
  • Payments are made at the end of the year of service.
  • There is no reimbursement for any payments the enlisted member has made on the account.

Both full time and reserve units may qualify for the loan repayment program. Typically for full time service, members 33 1/3 of the loan balance will be paid at the end of each year of service for 3 years, up to the maximum payment allowed for the branch of service you are enlisted. Reservists are paid at a rate of 15% of the balance for each year of service with lower maximum benefits.

Military Benefits by Branch

  • The Army offers up to $65,000 in loan repayment for qualifying MOS positions. These positions change quarterly based on the military’s needs.
  • The Navy offers up to $65,000 in loan repayment for qualifying MOS positions. These positions change quarterly based on the Navy’s needs.
  • The Air Force offers up to $10,000 in loan repayment through the CLRP (College Loan Repayment Program).
  • The Marines does not offer any repayment for existing loans.
  • The National Guard offers up to $50,000 in loan repayment for qualifying positions.
  • The Coast Guard offers up to $30,000 in loan repayment for qualifying positions.

 How to Qualify

The loan repayment program was established to assist with existing student loan debt at the time of enlistment. GI Bill and Tuition Assistance is available for members of the military who wish to further their education during their time in the service or after discharge.

A few key qualifications the enlisted member must do include:

  • Have a qualifying loan that is not in default
  • Be your first time enlisting in the service
  • Qualify for an eligible MOS position
  • Have 50 or higher score on the qualification test
  • Decline participation in the GI Bill
  • Request to be enrolled in the LRP program at the time of enlistment

Your recruiter will have complete details on qualifications and enlisting requirements for the branch of service you are considering. Additional information can also be found at the following websites:

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