A veteran’s guide: Navigating student loans as a service member
As a U.S. Navy veteran, I’m fortunate to have seen and experienced first-hand what we celebrate every Veterans Day: the unrelenting determination and drive of the men and women who serve our country. This remarkable dedication to our country does not stop after military service is finished: veterans contribute their skills to improve all avenues of American life — from education and healthcare to energy and finance, and much more.
One of my priorities as I transitioned into civilian life was finding a company that welcomed and supported veterans — an issue that I’ve made a focus of my career. In my role at Navient, I work every day to support two related goals: ensuring our military customers have the support they need to navigate student loan repayment and fostering a military-friendly workplace.
At Navient, our Military Benefits team answers 6,550 calls and emails per month to help service members and their families understand the benefits and options they have available to successfully pay off their student loans, including:
- Lower interest rate caps: The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) limits interest on student loans obtained prior to military service to 6 percent and waives any fees for eligible service members. Most service members already receive the SCRA benefit automatically, and our dedicated military team is ready to answer any questions.
- Ability to defer payments during special assignments of active duty: During active-duty, if the military service is in connection with a contingency operation, national emergency, or war, service members may be eligible to defer their payments during that timeframe.
- Potential for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Customers in qualifying public service positions, such as service men and women, can have the remainder of their Federal Direct Loans forgiven after they’ve made 120 qualifying payments (10 years of payments under certain plans). Customers who borrowed in 2010 or earlier under the Federal Family Education Loan Program may also pursue PSLF if they consolidate their loans into Direct Loans.
- Option for no-interest accrual: If military borrowers are deployed in a hostile zone and qualify for special pay, they may be eligible to have no interest accrued during deployment.
- Flexibility on required documentation: The HEROES Act allows active-duty military to be exempt from certain documentation requirements that require updated information on family size and income to stay in a repayment plan. On active duty, this option can be critical to staying on track with payments without the hassle of new paperwork.
Navient was recently awarded its fifth consecutive gold status as a 2019 Military Friendly Employer. We are a member of the Veterans Jobs Mission, a coalition of companies dedicated to hiring veterans, and have established a Veterans Resource Group to welcome and support veterans during their employment with our organization. In the hallways and in every meeting I participate in, I see this military-friendly atmosphere come to life.
This Veterans Day, I’m grateful for my fellow service men and women for all that they do in service to our nation. At Navient we’re committed to serving service members, veterans, and their families in any way that we can, today and every day.
For more information, visit our Military Benefits page dedicated to service members and their families.
Mike Maier is senior vice president of servicing support at Navient and a U.S. Navy veteran.