Mailbag: MilSpouse Student Loan Forgiveness?

You're not the only one asking Google if there is any form of military spouse student loan forgiveness. In fact, people have even been asking us.

One reader writes in:

I was curious about student loan help/forgiveness. I know there are certain types of loan forgiveness and yet when I try to research military spouse student loan forgiveness I am completely taken aback by the amount of people who don't believe there should be such help out there. I went to a very specialized college after graduating high school to do something that I love. Little did I know that I would meet the love of my life who happened to be a marine. Now I follow him to where he needs to be for HIS job and finding a job in my field is incredibly difficult due to the specialized nature of my job. Now I am faced with trying to repay a high student loan debt, trying to find a job that will accept me with all that goes on with being a military spouse, and the regret of going to school in the first place. Is there no hope?
First of all, let's get one thing straight: Student loan debt is so, so much less frightening when you're not yet in school and you're just putting your X on the line. Or when you're still in school and enjoying classes and your whole future is awesome and things are going swimmingly. Student loan debt when you get out of school? Absolutely terrifying.

We hear from spouses every so often who say they are rock stars at paying it off. That's awesome. If that's you, please: Share your secrets with us in the comments section.

But if you're like the rest of us -- a regular spouse with a regular job or looking for a job in the regularly ehhhh civilian job market that surrounds our nation's military installations, come sit by me. We can bemoan our debt together.

Because no, Virginia, there's no special way out of your student loans just because you're a military spouse. But there are a couple loopholes you should know about.

Get a Public Service Job and Some Debt Will Be Forgiven

You got it. Public school teachers, local librarians, nurses, full time-health care professionals, early childhood education, public interest lawyers, those in law enforcement and public safety, emergency management workers, and even your spouse all qualify for federal loan forgiveness. The same is true for anyone working for a 501c3 or with the local/state/federal government. Why? They work in public service.

The loans that are eligible for forgiveness are Stafford/Ford loans, Federal Direct loans, Perkins loans, some nursing/health care loans, Federal PLUS loans, and some FFEL loans. If your degree was anything like mine, that would mean a bulk of your debt could be eligible for some type of forgiveness.

Does that mean you? Check here to see if your job qualifies.

If it doesn't, you might want to start perusing the want ads - most specifically, those listed on Idealist.org. Many of those jobs are for non-profits, government organizations, and other public service groups. Just think: You could do good all day long while also doing good for you bank account.

Think About Other Ways to Pay for School

If you aren't already facing down a mountain of school debt but are just thinking about going back to school, now might be a good time for you to figure out if you can use any military benefits to pay for school. There are a lot of really, really great jobs you can get with an Associate's degree - something your MyCAA benefit covers.

Pros: A lot of the most employable sectors of the economy right now only require an Associate's to get your foot in the door. That's especially true of careers in IT, which are very portable and a very, very good fit for military spouses. (Curious? Read more right here. If you can problem solve, you can do IT. Really.)

Cons: Not everyone is eligible for MyCAA. Check here to see if you are.

Get Rid of Your Debt the Old-Fashion Way

When nothing else works, it's time for you to start knocking off that debt with a regular paycheck. But we know it can be so difficult to manage the military life and also build a career, so we have started a whole series of regular content just for you: the job seeker, the career changer, the person who's starting to be afraid that their house will get bombarded Harry Potter style with owls delivering default notices from the federal government. We have employment stories for all of you to help you navigate out of the debt, boredom, SAHM transition, or entry-level job you're in and help you climb the ladder to where you want to be.

If you're just beginning your job search, here are three good places to get started:

Should you tell the interviewer you're a military spouse?

How to start networking for the job you don't yet have.

Jobs that really are portable and can move with you.

And while you're in the middle of the job search yet still jobless, you can use this guide our friends at USAA shared with us on four ways to repay your loans without having a job at all.

Student loan debt sucks. But not paying it off is even worse. How did you pay off your student debt? Tell us! (Fun fact: I'm pretty sure I could buy a small island in Micronesia with the price tag of mine.)


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