The National Defense Student Loan Discharge Program

There are a variety of excellent Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Military Personnel, but none quite as easy to qualify for as the National Defense Student Loan Discharge program.

The National Defense Student Loan Discharge program was created to provide debt forgiveness to individuals who used either a National Defense Student Loan or a Federal Perkins Loan to finance their college education.

While the program doesn’t offer a full (100%) discharge, it does provide for some pretty significant loan cancellations, depending on how much you qualify for.

To receive an NDSLD discharge, you must first complete at least one full  year of service in one of the branches of the United States Armed Forces, and that year of service must have included an entire year of being deployed to a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been underway for so many years now, it’s highly likely that more than a few of our Veterans are eligible for this benefit program.


How do I Apply for a National Defense Discharge?

Unfortunately, the process for applying to the National Defense Student Loan Discharge program is relatively murky, and requires that you send a copy of your DD214 military discharge form along with an explanation of why you believe you qualify for the program to whoever is servicing your eligible loan.

In your letter of explanation, simply refer to the existence of the program, explain your service in the military, and discuss some of the basics of what you were doing during the time you were deployed to the hostile fire or imminent danger pay area.

It’s highly likely that your lender will have a formalized process which kicks in as soon as they receive the letter, but be prepared to trade a couple phone calls and emails before receiving your full discharge benefit.


Get More Information

The National Defense Student Loan Discharge is definitely a valuable program worth taking advantage of, but did you know that you can save tens of thousands of dollars on education expenses with the Post 9/11 GI Bill and it’s suite of additional benefits? Find out how to maximize your military benefits by viewing our Guide to Education Benefit for Military Personnel.


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Tim's experience battling crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on dealing with excessive student loans and advocates a cautious approach to funding education costs via borrowed money.