When Student Loans Meet Military Service

When I was fresh out of high school I had a choice to make, and my life almost looked a lot different than it does now. I was weighing my options between following one brother through college or following the other through the military. I had decided to enlist when my brother who was going to college convinced me to visit him at his university, where I changed my mind to see if college was for me, and started on the course that led me to where I am today.

Not everyone chooses between a military or college future. A lot of people do both, and they experience unique challenges. I admire anyone who chooses to go both routes and who face the challenges each path presents. However, I’m upset by the fact that the people who serve for their country end up struggling with student loans when they should get more help in return for their service. Each of them have made sacrifices in their lives to serve — whether that’s spending so much time away from their loved ones, relocating their families frequently, passing up more lucrative career options, or even physical sacrifices in the form of injuries (both mental, physical, and emotional), and I feel they deserve a higher level of student debt relief.

Of course, they do have a lot of options depending on where they are in their careers. Active duty members can take advantage of interest rate cuts while they’re serving and each branch has its own programs, including some for forgiveness. The only barrier to getting that relief is getting the right information.

Qualifying veterans have access to the Forever GI Bill, but for-profit colleges have a track record of taking advantage of those benefits, misleading veterans, and leaving them with high student loan balances and a worthless education. It’s disgusting that those schools are allowed to do that. But even when they close down, like Corinthian College and ITT Tech, students many of them vets, are still not seeing the relief they deserve through borrower defense discharge.

I don’t think we’re doing things right if a vet’s student loans are preventing them from paying their bills and providing a life for their family. We should be doing better by our service members, especially considering what they’ve given to us.

 

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