Many members of the military with student loans are spending way too much to pay off those loans. They are not accessing the student loan repayment protections and forgiveness benefits that have been granted to them under federal rules.

Unfortunately, those rules are extremely complex, and not all loan servicers are properly handling the loans or advising their clients. A report by the Consumer Financal Protection Bureau (PDF) shows that many servicemembers are paying thousands too much over the life of their loans.

The Action Guide for Servicemembers with Student Loans (PDF) shows you step-by-step how to take advantage of the repayment protections mandated by Congress.

Lower Your Interest Rates

If you’re an active duty servicemember, you are eligible to have the interest rate reduced by 6 percent on any loans you took prior to the start of your active-duty service.

Manage Federal Loans

Income-based repayment (IBR) and public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) are two options servicemembers should consider to help repay their loans.

IBR determines your monthly payment amounts based on your income and the size of your family.

PSLF forgives any remaining loan balance after you’ve made 10 years of on-time payments while working full time in public service.

If you’re on active-duty, you may also be eligible to defer your loan repayments for 180 days after your service ends.

Manage Private Loans

You’ll have to review the terms of your private loans carefully to find what options are available to you. Some companies may let you defer payments while you’re on active duty service. However, interest may continue to accumulate, increasing your overall debt amount. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends making payments on your private student loans if you can.

Learn more about how to manage your loan repayments and what options are available to you (PDF).