How to Qualify for 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.

Get Help With Your Loans!

If you're truly struggling with student loan debt, then you should 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.

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. McCarthy Law will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you currently owe (typically 40%), then get you a new loan for the lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old loan, repair your credit and reduce your monthly payments.

I've spent 10 years interviewing debt relief agencies, talking to all sorts of "experts", and these are the only two companies that I trust to help my readers. If you have a bad experience with either of them, please make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!

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.

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.


Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.