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Military FAQs

Military personnel:
Have student loan questions?

Automated phone support available 24/7

Specialized military customer service reps are available Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., ET

After supplying your account information, select the service member option

Borrowers living abroad: Call 001-888-272-5543 (toll-free) or 001-317-570-7397

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces: What you need to know about your federal student loan benefits

ImportantInformationForMembersOfTheUSArmedForces

 
 
Military FAQs

Military FAQs

General

How can I find my student loan servicer?

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) can help. Visit NSLDS.ed.gov or call
1-800-4-FED-AID.

As a family member, what can I do to help?

Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to your service member to see if they’ve assigned anyone power of attorney. If not, recommend that they speak with the legal assistance office on their base to find out how, and the benefits of doing so.
  • If you’re authorized to access information on the loan, make sure you have the borrower’s Social Security number, loan number, and date of birth available.
What is the difference between deferment and forbearance?

Deferment allows you to postpone payments for a period of time. For eligible federal loans, you’re not responsible for interest that accrues during deferment. Your account is considered current and in good standing; it is not considered delinquent and there is no impact on your credit score.

Forbearance allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your payments at your lender's discretion. It is intended to help you in temporary times of need. You are responsible for the interest that accrues during that time. On certain types of forbearance, if interest is not paid during the forbearance period, it can be capitalized (added to your principal balance) and you may incur a fee. During forbearance, your account is considered current and in good standing; it is not considered delinquent and there is no impact on your credit score.

Is there any downside to getting a deferment or forbearance?

A forbearance or a deferment can provide you with flexibility if you need to postpone or reduce payments on your loans. If you have an eligible federal loan, where your interest is being paid during your deferment, or you are serving in a hostile area that qualifies you for special pay and have had your interest rate reduced to 0%, then the amount you owe on your loan will not increase during your deferment, forbearance, or while the 0% interest is in effect. However, if those situations do not apply to all of your loans, then interest will still be accruing on your loan balance(s) during your deferment or forbearance. If you are not at least paying this interest during that time, the total amount you will owe at the end of your forbearance or deferment will have increased. That may impact your future payments or the term of your loan. Only you can decide what makes sense for you — whether to request a deferment or forbearance, or what payments you want to make, if any, during those times.

Are there military scholarships?

There are a number of scholarships available. Check out the Sallie Mae Scholarship Search for a list of scholarships that match your criteria.

I’m planning to go to college; can the military help me pay for it?

There are many ways to serve the country and get a higher education, from ROTC to military service academies. CollegeAnswer.com has information that can help.

When I send an email to MilitaryBenefits@SallieMae.com, how will I know you've received it?

When you email us, you’ll get an automatic reply letting you know that we received your request and/or forms. The reply will include a reference number for future communications on the issue. We’ll also follow up with you via email when your request is complete.

Managing your good credit score

What is power of attorney and how can it help me?

Power of attorney is a legal status that allows a trusted person to manage your financial matters, including your student loans, while you’re deployed or unavailable to manage them yourself. It’s an important role: This person will be able to sign documents and act on your behalf. The legal assistance office on your military base can assist with establishing a power of attorney.

How can I protect my identity?

Place an active duty alert on your credit report to reduce the risk that you’ll become a victim of identity theft. When a business sees an active duty alert on your credit report, it must verify your identity before issuing credit. You may designate a personal representative (a spouse or another trusted person) who can act on your behalf to verify your identity or remove your active duty alert if needed.

Repayment

How can I change my repayment plan?

You can request a change to your loan's repayment plan 30-45 days before entering repayment as well as during the repayment period. For eligibility requirements, please log in to your account and refer to the Change Payment menu.

I want to request a deferment; what should I do?

You may be able to get a deferment due to your active duty status. Borrowers who are on active duty in the armed forces, full-time officers in the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, on active duty in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others may be eligible for a public service deferment. Military deferment/forbearance is available for private loans. It’s based on the type of loan and the loan’s status, such as in school or in repayment, when the request is made. Interest is not capitalized at the end of the deferment/forbearance period.

What is the military student loan forgiveness program?

You may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of your Direct Loans when you’ve made 120 qualifying payments after October 1, 2007. You must have been employed in public service, including military service, while making the qualifying payments.

 Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

What is SCRA?

SCRA provides an interest rate benefit during eligible periods of military service by capping the interest rate on eligible loans obtained before military service at 6%. In addition, you’re not charged any fees. The SCRA interest rate benefit is available to borrowers, cosigners, and co-makers.

Who is a "service member"?
  • Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard
  • Reserve and National Guard members while on active duty
  • Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • As a U.S. citizen, service with forces of a nation allied with the U.S. in a war or similar to types of military service identified in the above options
  • One of the above criteria, though currently absent from assigned duty due to sickness, wounds, leave, or other lawful cause
Does this protection only apply to times when the nation is at war or to those deployed in hostile areas?

No, this protection applies to all service members, whenever and wherever deployed.

What student loans are covered?

Any loan incurred by a service member (or jointly with a spouse) before military service, including:

  • Federally sponsored loans, including Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, or Graduate PLUS Loans made under the:
    • William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, or
    • Federal Family Education Loan Program
  • Private student loans

NOTE: HEAL loans are not eligible for this benefit.

What is the maximum interest rate limit?

The interest rate cannot exceed 6% per year. (If your existing interest rate is less than 6%, it will not change.) All interest in excess of that is forgiven. Creditors cannot add this amount to the obligation or take any action that would result in the service member paying the excess at a later date. In addition, the creditor must lower the required payment.

What is counted as interest?

Service charges, late charges, and other charges and fees, excluding insurance charges, which occurred during the period of military service, are counted as interest. However, origination and application fees assessed prior to military service are not included.

Are interest-rate reductions given automatically?

No, service members must make a written request to their creditor (or servicer) and provide a copy of their orders. This can be done at any time up to 180 days following completion of service.

How long does this interest-rate cap apply?

For most loans, it applies through the service member’s period of military service. For mortgages, trust deeds, or other loans in the nature of a mortgage, the rate cap applies during the period of military service and for one year after.

How do I renew my request?

If you need to renew your request by recertifying your eligibility, you or your cosigner/endorser must send or fax us a written request along with a copy of the military orders.

How do I request the 6% interest-rate benefit?

If you're a service member who received your eligible loan(s) prior to entering military service, the SCRA requires a written request, along with a copy of your military orders, to be submitted for an interest-rate reduction. For Sallie Mae-serviced student loans, mail or fax your written request, along with a copy of your military orders, to Sallie Mae, P.O. Box 9500, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9500 (fax: 800-848-1949). You can submit your request anytime during your active duty service and up to 180 days after leaving the service.