How to Maximize the Value of Your Army Loan Repayment Benefits
In 2019, the Army’s SLRP benefits remain the best on offer from any Service Branch.
In fact, out of all the current Military Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits Programs, the Army’s Student Loan Repayment Program is by far the best for quickly reducing student loan debt.
Why? Because compared to the other service branch’s Military College Loan Repayment Programs, the Army’s is the easiest to qualify for, and it offers the biggest benefit amount; up to $65,000 in total student loan forgiveness.
However, before we get going on explaining what the program is, how it works, and how to maximize your benefits, let me make one thing clear: if you’re ONLY considering joining the Army to get help with your student loans, then you should think again, because that’s a terrible idea.
What is Army SLRP and How Does it Work?
The Army Student Loan Repayment Program is typically referred to as Army LRP or SLRP, but is officially known as the “Army College Loan Repayment Program”.
Army LRP was created to offer a special incentive to highly qualified individuals who enlist in one of the Army’s critical military occupational specialties (MOS). That means that these benefits aren’t available to everyone, but only to certain people who agree to serve in specific positions that the Army really needs help with.
The Army SLRP benefits program remains fully-funded this year and continues to offer the opportunity to receive annual payments to help reduce your student loan debt, with a lifetime maximum forgiveness cap set at $65,000 in total benefits received.
One thing to keep in mind about the Army’s SLRP program is that it’s designed for people who have already racked up some student loans. If you don’t already have student loan debt, then you’ll want to visit my Guide to the Army Tuition Assistance Program instead.
But Before I Go Through The Details of SRLP…
Let me offer you one quick piece of advice – even if you do qualify for the Army’s Loan Repayment Program or their Tuition Assistance Program, the odds of everything actually working out completely seem to be quite low, based on the feedback I’ve received from fellow Soldiers.
To protect yourself from financial ruin and stress, I want to suggest that you consider alternative options as well, at least as backup solutions in case the Army benefits don’t come through as quickly, or cover your debt as completely, as you’d hoped they would.If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.
I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.
For help with FEDERAL Student Loans: Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.
For help with PRIVATE Student Loans: Call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe (typically about 40% your total outstanding balance), then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old deb, repair your credit and start making much lower monthly payments. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans, so please do not call them if you only have Federal loans.
If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!
Army SLRP Eligibility Criteria
- To qualify for Army student loan repayment benefits, you must enlist for Active Duty service in the Army and:
- Request to participate in the LRP program during your enlistment process
- Get your participation annotated in writing on your enlistment contract
- Decline participation in the Montgomery GI Bill (NOT the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Forever GI Bill, each of which are fine) in writing, using DD Form 2366 (see section below for details)
- Hold a high school diploma (GED equivalents will not suffice) at the time of your enlistment
- Score a 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (your main score from the ASVAB you took before enlisting)
- Enlist in a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) deemed eligible for participation in the CLRP at the time of your enlistment (check with your recruiter to make sure that your MOS applies at the time you join up, as eligible programs change by the day)
- Be on a non-prior service accession (unless you’re using enlistment in the Reserves to qualify for LRP benefits)
- Have a student loan that qualifies for participating in the Army’s CLRP program (one insured or guaranteed by the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part B, D, or E)
If you meet the eligibility criteria outlined above, you can begin receiving loan repayment benefits as soon as you complete your first year of service with the Army.
- Not all student loans qualify for Army LRP benefits. Qualifying loans must be:
- Made, insured or guaranteed under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, part B of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1071)
- Made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, part D of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087a)
- Made under Federal Perkins Loans, part E of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087aa)
- Incurred for education purposes (student loan debt only) and made by a lender that is:
- An agency or instrumentality of a State
- A financial or credit institution, or an insurance company, that is subject to examination and supervision by an agency of the US or any State
- From a pension fund or a non-profit private entity, subject to a case by case review and approval
- Examples of Eligible Loans Include:
- Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS loans)
- Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS Loans)
- Stafford Loans
- Perkins Loans
- William D. Ford Loans
- Examples of Non-Eligible Loans Include:
- Private loans
- Equity Loans
- State Funded Loans
- Institution Loans
- Consolidation Loans for military dependents (spouses, children, etc.)
How Much Debt Relief Can I Get?
LRP benefits come with different rates depending on your status (whether you’re on Active Duty or in the Reserves), but as of this year, there’s still a bit of a loophole in this process.
Technically, Active Duty personnel are supposed to get more money, but in reality, those serving in the Reserves can qualify for just as much in annual benefits.
Army SLRP Rates for Active Duty Soldiers
Those serving in Active Duty stations are eligible to have 33.33% (or $1,500, whichever is higher) of the outstanding principle balance of their loans paid off for each year of service.
Payments begin on the date that you complete your first year. However, if you are shifted to an MOS role that isn’t eligible for LRP benefits, or if your role changes and is no longer deemed eligible, then you will lose your eligibility.
Army SLRP Rates for Army Reserves
Those serving in the Army Reserves are eligible to have 15% (or $1,500, whichever is higher) of the outstanding principle balance of their loans paid off for each year of service.
Did you see how that works? Even though Reserves members are only eligible to have half as much of their debt paid off in terms of the percentage, if their loans are small enough that $1,500 is higher than 15%, they can receive repayments at the same rate as Active Duty personnel.
Is My Loan’s Interest Covered Too?
One major flaw in the Army’s college repayment program is that it doesn’t provide any financial assistance for interest that you’ve accumulated on your student loan debt.
Instead, the program only offers you help with paying off the principle balance of your loan.
This is definitely a downer, as the benefits would be substantially more valuable if they did cover interest as well, but you may also be able to escape interest accumulation by speaking to your lender about their interest rules.
Can I Receive Deferment or Forbearance for my Loan?
Many loans do not accumulate interest while the borrower is deployed on active duty service, and some have other deferments options, so be sure to speak to whoever services your loan to find out if you can have interest forgiven or deferred to a later date.
Are SLRP Benefits Taxable Income?
Unfortunately, yes, your Army college loan repayment program benefits are counted as taxable income.
However, you won’t ever actually get any of the money that’s provided as LRP for your debt, because the Federal Government sends payments directly to your lender, and it witholds 28% of what it would have paid out on your behalf each year for distribution to the IRS.
So, while LRP benefits do count as taxable income (and have to be accounted for by a separate W-2 that you will receive each year), you won’t have to make any out of pocket payments to account for them.
And that’s a huge benefit, because most other forms of student loan forgiveness do require you to include them as taxable income on your annual tax return, and to pay the IRS a percentage of the benefits you received.
If you’re looking at other forms of student loan forgiveness, and wondering how they’ll compare to the Army LRP program, then please make sure to visit my page about Student Loan Forgiveness and Taxable Income Laws.
And if you’re concerned about tax liabilities, or if you already have tax problems of your own, then please consider visiting my new website, Forget Tax Debt, where I offer advice, tips and tricks for decreasing your outstanding tax debt, covering topics like Settling an IRS Tax Debt, Applying for IRS Tax Debt Forgiveness Benefits, and Avoiding IRS Phone Scams.
Army SLRP Benefits & The Post 9/11 GI Bill
When the SLRP program was first announced, in order to qualify for its benefits, you had to completely waive participation in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but the situation has changed (according to multiple first-hand reports), and you can now apparently satisfy eligibility guidelines for both programs simply by signing an extended service contract.
While army college loan repayment benefits are available to those who sign up for 4 year enlistments, both SLRP and Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are being made to those enlistees who agree to join up for 6 years.
If you ever plan on returning to college again, then you will want to strongly consider enlisting for at least 6 years, since Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits provide tens of thousands of dollars in tuition assistance.
Remember that you will only be able to receive loan repayment program benefits on loans that were created before you enlisted, and if your enlistment contract specifically states that you’re participating in the program.
Your loans must qualify for eligibility, and you must remain qualified in your original MOS throughout your initial term of service to continue receiving the benefit.
If, at any time, your loan ends up in default, then you will disqualify yourself from continued SLRP, so stay on top of things to prevent from losing out on the thousands of dollars that you deserve!
For More Information
Talk to your local Army recruiter to get additional details about the Army college loan repayment program, or visit the Army’s official “MyArmyBenefits” page on the College Loan Repayment Program (LRP) here.
This page breaks down the LRP benefits on offer for each type of MOS, providing details about what’s on offer for every designation, and is an excellent resource for anyone considering enlisting as a Soldier.
To further help you save money on future education costs, make sure to also visit my Guide to Military Education Benefits, which goes through all the different components of the Forever GI Bill, explaining how to maximize the benefits you’ve been offered so that you can get as much out of the program as possible.
Where Can I Get Help With Other Student Loan Questions?
Finally, if you have other questions about Student Loans and how to handle them, my website is an incredible resource providing tons of Guides on all sorts of different elements of the process.
Federal Student Loan Relief
To get Help with Federal Loans, visit my Guides about Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs, Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges, Student Loan Delinquency, Student Loan Rehabilitation, and Student Loan Wage Garnishments.
Private Student Loan Relief
And if you need Help with Private Loans, be sure to check out my Guides on Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs, Private Student Loan Consolidation Options, Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges and Private Student Loan Defaults.
Please Help Me Out
I spend a great deal of time updating the pages of this site to make sure that you have access to the latest, most accurate information about each program, but I can only continue dedicating time and energy toward this if you help support me!
If the information you found here was useful, please make sure to share a link to this page with people you know who you think could use it. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or simply email it to your friends and family members who may be interested in using Army LRP.
The more people who visit my site, the more time I can allocate toward improving it. Thanks for your support, and please be sure to come back soon!
Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.