How to Use National Guard SLRP to Cover Costs of College

In 2019, the National Guard continues to provide some excellent education benefits to new enlistees, with the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) being one of the very best programs on offer.

National Guard SLRP benefits are available to both Officers and enlisted personnel, and as of this year, this program offers up to $50,000 in total student loan forgiveness.

That’s honestly one of the best military benefits packages on the table in terms of saving you from student loans, as only the Army currently offers a better, bigger benefit, at $65,000 total via Army SLRP.

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!

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility guidelines are different for non-prior service Soldiers and those who have previously served in the Armed Forces, and the Army National Guard has it’s own entirely different eligibility guidelines as well.

Here’s a breakdown of how to qualify for the National Guard student loan repayment program:

Prior Service Soldiers:

If you are a Prior Service Soldier, you are eligible for SLRP benefits when you enlist if you meet these requirements:

  • You must enlist for at least six years
  • You must enlist or affiliate at the grade of E-7 or lower
  • You must enlist or affiliate into a qualified position within an MTO unit (“go to war” units) or Medical TDA unit
  • You must have previously completed Army or USMC Basic Combat Training, or you must complete Army Basic Combat Training within 365 days of enlisting, if you previously served within the Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard. Only if you served in Special Operations units within the USAF or USN can you get out of this requirement
  • You must have no more than 14 years total service when you enlist or affiliate
  • You must be Duty Military Occupational Specialty Qualified (DMOSQ) for your ARNG position
  • You must not have received student loan repayment program benefits in your previous military career
  • You must not have previously received a GRFD ROTC scholarship
  • You must not be enlisting for OCS as a 095 candidate, or as a 09R SMP cadet (unless you’re taking advantage of the 095 SLRP option)
  • You must have scored at least 31 on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT)
  • You must not be enlisting under the provisions of a conditional release from a Select Reserve component, unless you’re doing so from USAR

Non-Prior Service (NPS) Soldiers:

If you are an NPS Soldier, you will be eligible for SLRP benefits when you enlist if you meet these requirements:

  • You must enlist for at least six years
  • You must enlist for a critical skills (CS) vacancy, at or below the grade of E-4
  • You must enlist for a qualified position within an MTOE unit (“go to war” units) or Medical TDA unit
  • You must score at least 50 on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT)
  • You must not also be enlisting in the 09R Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP)
  • You must not also be enlisting in the RFP, Active First or GED Plus Programs
  • You must not also be enlisting as a Glossary Non-Prior Service (GNPS)

Current Army National Guard Members:

If you are already an ARNG member, you are eligible for SLRP benefits if you re-enlist and meet these requirements:

  • You must meet all reenlistment or extension eligibility criteria
  • You must extend within 365-91 days of your ETS for a minimum six years of service
  • You must reenlist or textend at the grade of E-7 or below (though you can accept promotions to E-8 after your contract start date, and still remain qualified to receive SLRP benefits)
  • You must be Duty Military Occupational Specialty Qualified (DMOSQ) for your position
  • You must have no more than 14 years total service by the date of your current ETS
  • You must not be in Mil-Tech status or be a Mil-Tech Soldier in a TPU status while deployed
  • You must not be in AGR status or be an AGR Soldier in a TPU status while deployed
  • You must not be an officer who contracted for this incentive while you were an enlisted applicant (no double-dipping)

What If You Don’t Qualify?

If you find yourself failing to qualify for the program, then don’t give up quite yet, because there may be other options for earning forgiveness.

The best way to find out what you might be eligible for is to call the Student Loan Relief Helpline, a company staffed by absolute student loan debt experts, who can review your background and let you know which programs you may be eligible for.

The Helpline can even take on the work of completing any paperwork you need to do, and submitting it on your behalf, for a fee of something like a few hundred dollars.

And while some people say you should never pay anyone for help with your loans, my experience in the industry has proven that many people simply cannot take care of it on their own because programs like the National Guard SLRP are too complicated to understand unless you spend hours and hours researching every little detail.

If you’re confused, lost, or simply want to get your loans taken care of as quickly as possible, then call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065.

Loan Forgiveness Rates

  • Loan Forgiveness Rates are set based upon when you joined the National Guard. As you can see, those who joined more recently have access to substantially better benefits (remember, better benefits are offered when the Guard has trouble with recruiting, and recruiting is tough to sustain during periods of war).
  • The maximum amount you can receive in loan forgiveness is $50,000, and you cannot receive any more than the amount designated in the Maximum Annual Payment column above each year. Based on the data, you will need to serve nearly 7 years to earn forgiveness of $50,000.
  • You must have earned Duty Military Occupational Specialty Qualification before you can start receiving any loan repayment benefits. You will not be considered DMOSQ, and thus will not receive any loan repayments, until you’ve completed your Basic Combat Training (BCT), unless you joined under the 095 SLRP enlistment option.

Program Restrictions

  • To receive loan repayment benefits, you must have at least one qualifying and disbursed Title IV federal loan that is not in default at the time you enlisted, re-enlisted, or extended your enlistment contract. You loan had to have been disbursed prior to the date you enlisted, affiliated, re-enlisted or extended your service contract.
  • You can only receive loan repayment benefits on a loan that was disbursed after your enlistment date if you are re-enlisting or extending your service contract for at least six years in the ARNG and have not taken a break in service from the original SLRP contract start date.
  • Annual repayments can not exceed 15% or $500 (whichever is greater) of the amount that you owed on your eligible loans at the time of your enlistment, affiliate, re-enlistment or extension of your service contract, and enrollment in the SLRP program.
  • If you owe less than the amount that is to be given to you in any given year, you will only be eligible to receive the amount left on your loan. You cannot qualify to receive more repayment dollars than you actually owe.
  • Prorated payments will not be offered for separations from service that did not complete at least an entire year of satisfactory participation in the ARNG, or for acceptance of an AGR or Mil-Tech position (including indefinite technicians and temporary technicians on assignment for more than 189 days in any continues 12 month period). Basically, you must remain in a “go to war” unit.
  • Repayments will be cancelled if, at any point in time, your loan goes into default.
  • Repayments may be available for loans that are in default on the same day the following year, but only if the loan is no longer in default at that time. If the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) reports that your loan is in default, you will not receive any repayment benefits unless you can provide a written statement from your lender proving that it is not in default.
  • Lender information will be checked each year to make sure that it matches whatever was reported in the NSLDS documents. NSLDS documents cannot be more than 90 days old from the scheduled anniversary payment date, or not payment will be made on your behalf. It is your responsibility to make sure that updated documents are delivered on time.
  • You cannot receive SLRP benefits for any payments that are already made by you, or by anyone on your behalf. SLRP payments will only be distributed to your lender, not to you.
  • If you have any break in serve, for any reason, you will be permanently disqualified from SLRP eligibility, unless the break is an authorized period of non-availability. Soldiers with more than one authorized break in service, however, will be terminated from eligibility without any recoupment offered.
  • Army Medical Department (AMEDD) officers who have received SLRP benefits will have them terminated without recoupment immediately if they are appointed to an AMEDD corps or branch, except for MOS 67J, 70B and 72D.
  • If you choose a service contract extension of anything less than six years, your eligibility to receive SLRP benefits will be immediately terminated.

For Additional Details

If you still have questions about National Guard SLRP, please contact your recruiter, state Point of Contact, or your state’s Education Services Officer (ESO) to have them answered.

To get details on other military benefits packages created to help reduce the costs of your education, make sure to check out our Military Education Benefits Guide.

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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.