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Ask the Expert: Will Uncle Sam Pay Off My Student Loans?

Question: I have a son who’s a college student. He will have about $95,000 is student loan debt when he graduates. If he joins the military, how much of his debt will be forgiven in what period of time? And how long does he need to serve? Once he has served in the military, will the military pay for graduate school?

— Bryan in New Hampshire

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fast

You’ve asked two different and complicated questions, Bryan. So for the first part, I’m consulting my own Brian.

Brian Schwartz works for a partner company that specializes in student loan debt. He has good news for you. If your son enters the military, he’s eligible for something called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Before he can get into that program, however, he needs to make 120 payments in a qualifying consolidation program. After that, Brian says, “any remaining balance of his loan will be forgiven in its entirety at that time.”

So while it’ll take a while to make 120 payments, you save a  bundle after that.

“It’s impossible to say how much of the loan will be forgiven, as his payments will be dictated by his income and household size,” Brian says. “While he doesn’t have to remain in the military the entire time, he does have to maintain employment in a qualifying position — defined as anybody working in a nonprofit, city, state or government organization.”

If you have more questions about this, check out’s Military Student Loan Forgiveness section, and if you want to speak to Brian or one of his fellow counselors, call at 1-888-472-0365 and we’ll patch you through.

As for the military paying for grad school, the answer is maybe. It depends on how long your son serves, which branch he’s in, and what rank he holds. To find out how you can use the GI Bill to pay for a post-grad degree, your son needs to consult with his recruiter before he enlists.


Have a debt question?

Email your question to and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a  CPA, chairman of, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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