Student loans have become a prevalent problem for college students over the years, and service members are not excluded. The tuition cost for a college education is rising, and many students finish their degrees with debts too overwhelmed to pay. But the Air Force student loan repayment can help you pay off your student loan debt.
Even though AF student loan services don’t provide significant benefits like other military loan repayment programs, you can still pay your loan debts.
In this guide, you’ll find out more about the Air Force student loan repayment programs and other excellent educational benefits that help pay off your student loan.
Let’s dive in!
The Congress passed the Air Force student loan repayment to encourage potential military members to enlist in the Air Force. For you to qualify for the program, there has to be a previous loan debt and decline membership in the post 911 GI bill benefits.
Comparing the Air Force SLRP to the Army CLRP program and the Navy SLRP benefits, the Air Force student loan repayment does not come close in terms of educational benefits. But it’s possible to get your student loan debt paid off. The Air Force SLRP provides annual loan repayment of $10,000 maximum. You’re, however, eligible for the program if you enlist in the Air Force for a minimum of three years.
The AF student loan services will pay 33.33% or $1,500 of your remaining principal balance in the first year. From then on, they will pay off your loan every year until the student loan debt is finally cleared or the amount reaches the $10,000 limit.
But, when you reach the $10,000 limit, you’ll not be eligible for the Air Force student loan repayment again. On the brighter side, the $10,000 benefit is better than no benefit at all. It can help you pay some, if not all, of your outstanding student loan debt.
Finding in-depth information about AF student loan services is difficult. The Air Force official website does not provide detailed information about the Air Force student loan repayment, either. However, you can speak to a recruiter or talk directly to the AF student loan services officers for more details.
The first step that qualifies you for the Air Force SLRP program is to sign up when you initially join the Air Force. You have to make sure the sign up is documented in the contract. If not, you’ll not be allowed to benefit from the program.
Also, other criteria qualify you for the Air Force student loan repayment:
You cannot qualify for the AF student loan services with every student loan. A good example is private loans. The Air Force will not repay any private loans. For you to qualify for the Air Force SLRP, you need to have a federal public loan. Some of the loans that qualifies for the Air Force student loan repayment are:
The major limitation of joining the Air Force SLRP is the inability to receive the Post 911 GI Bill benefits and AF student loan services in the first year of service. As explained earlier, if you want to receive the benefit in the first year, you have to apply for at least six years in service.
Looking at the Post 911 GI Bill benefit, the Air Force student loan repayment is not ideal since it only provides $10,000. The Post 911 GI bill has more advantages.
Another limitation of the program is the Airmen enlisted in the Air Force Reserves. Currently, they’re not eligible to receive any benefits from the program. However, the service members enrolled in the Air Force Reserves can qualify if they sign up for specific missions. You can receive a maximum of $20,000 in Air Force SLRP benefit, which is better than what a regular Airmen will receive.
You should know that there are taxes on the Air Force Student loan repayment benefits you receive. 28% of your repayment is transferred to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), so instead of the $10,000, you’re actually getting $7,200.
JAG is another Air Force student loan repayment special incentive offered to highly eligible JAG officers with JD degrees. Under the program, the Air Force will pay up to $65,000 of your student loan debt for three years. However, you have to make equal payments annually to your lender. The first payment happens when you complete your first year of active duty. All your payments are subject to tax deductions.
According to My Air Force Benefits, the JAG is not an entitlement, and it’s for officers who exhibit a high degree of leadership qualities and professionalism—and also serving in the US Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
The Air Force TA is one of the best ways to pay for your education expenses before they pile up to become debts. You can use the program for personal or professional education costs. But not everyone can benefit from the program, and the Air Force tuition program covers only particular educational costs.
The TA covers 100 percent of a course’s tuition and fees, but it’s based on the credit hours you take. Also, there are restrictions on the number of credit hours a program has in each year and the maximum amount the TA will pay in an annual fiscal year.
If you’re eligible for the Air Force Tuition Assistance program, the Air Force will cover your educational expenses until they reach these limits:
You’re only qualified for the $4,500 for the whole fiscal year, which is between October 1, and September 30. Remember that you can only use the tuition for the expenses that are necessary for enrolling in the preferred courses. Also, you will not receive the Air Force benefit cash. The Air Force student loan service will transfer the tuition straight to the school.
The Air Force Tuition Assistance program can cover costs for tuition, enrollment fees, lab fees, and other required tuition fees.
There’s a higher chance that the $4,500 will not cover your school’s expenses due to the course you enrolled in or the college you chose. In case it doesn’t cover, there are other education benefits like the Post 911 GI Bill benefits, Tuition Assistance Top-Up program, or even the Yellow Program to pay for your educational tuition. Military Grants and scholarships can also help you pay for your educational expenses.
With a careful plan, you can graduate your degree without owing the government.
The benefits are open to officers and enlisted members. However, there are requirements for you to receive the benefits:
Not every school is eligible for the Air Force TA program. To use the TA benefit, the school must get approval from a certified agency. It’s a must that the US Department of Education approves the agency. You can find out if your school is eligible when you apply on the Air Force official website.
High school equivalency programs, GED, and completion programs are eligible for the TA benefits. However, airmen usually use their TA benefits for degree programs and college programs. Luckily, you can use your Tuition Assistance benefits in degree courses, certification courses, and college-level programs so far as a certified agency approves the school.
Also, you can use your benefits in studying your course online or in an institution. They are provisions made for distance learning students.
You can apply online through the Air Force official website. It’s good to know that when you apply for the program, and you fail in a course, you’ll be required to reimburse the TA funds. So if you’re not sure you’ll complete the entire course, do not apply for the program.
Also, while pursuing the course, try not to fail in a grad, receive a withdrawal grade, or a “D.” These instances can cause you to reimburse the funds.
There are offers the military provides, which few jobs can do. Some military members enlist for educational benefits while serving or after retirement. Unfortunately, some of the educational benefits like the Air Force student loan repayment is defunct. And it appears there’s no hope of restoring the benefit for air force personnel. At least, that’s what some sources are claiming.
There are no official sources to prove whether the program is defunct or not. To clarify this claim, you can visit the Air Force official website for further information or chat with an adviser.
The Air Force student loan repayment is a great deal if your outstanding student loan debt is not enormous, and you genuinely love the Air Force. If you want to know about the program, visit the official Air Force website. You can have a real-time discussion with an Air Force adviser on the site.