Defaulted Student Loans Could Affect Your Enlistment

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Part 3 of 3: Were you aware that when you have defaulted student loans or carry high debt, it will have a negative impact on your ability to enlist in the service? However, if you are already in the service, there may be programs that will help to get you out of your tough situation.

Each branch of the service, its different divisions (such as the service academies), as well as individual MOS’s/AFSC’s, have its own policies as to credit and defaulted loans.

According to Christa L. D’Andrea, Chief, Public Affairs Air Force Recruiting Service, “Experience and history has shown us that if we allow potential applicants to enter the Air Force with excessive financial debt that they tend not to do as well in technical training. Additionally, they have additional financial burdens on them that an Airman’s salary cannot necessarily remedy without putting an additional financial strain on their current situation.”

Paying off your debt is viewed as your personal problem, not the military’s. On the Army’s website, , a young man recently wrote in, expressing that he wanted to become a Warrant Officer. Standing in his way were “credit issues and a 30K loan.” His situation was certainly sympathetic: the loan was for school and the credit issues came about from “domestic issues” involving his parents. The company he had been working for closed several stores, including his. The man came up with what he thought was a clever solution: potentially using a signing bonus to pay off his debts. However, the Army’s MSG Glenn shot down that idea with the precision they are famous for. “If the Army won’t allow you to contract for WOFT because of your debt I doubt if a possible bonus would do you any good. That would be after the fact with absolutely no assurance that you would actually pay it off before you shipped (and) not use it to buy something else.” According to the Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs Office, it’s not just your own finances that you have to worry about – it’s your spouse’s, too. “Married applicants are more at risk of having debt and are therefore required to be screened by use of additional financial screening tools.”

However, there are programs and counseling services available to active duty members who may be struggling financially after they have joined the Air Force. Programs such as the Air Force Assistance Fund can be of benefit to Airmen who have encountered some unexpected expenses/burdens while on active duty. Angelo Haygood, deputy director of Air Force Recruiting Service operations notes that an applicant must have a debt-to-income ratio or below 40% of their projected AF rank. This applies to all duties, including officers.

If an enlisted applicant requires an exception/waiver due to debt issue, they are ineligible for entry into duties requiring a top secret clearance. Those applying for officer training would more than likely not be selected for basic officer training. The Navy, according to the Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs Office, does not keep people from enlisting just because of credit or loan status. This is their policy: “Military members are expected to effectively manage their financial affairs without command involvement.  Should a service member’s indebtedness be brought to the command’s attention by creditors, the command with provide the member counseling in an attempt to aid the member in getting his/her debt current.  Individuals who are continually unable to resolve their financial matters after reasonable command involvement are subject to separation.” The lesson is to keep your debt under control for a future in the military and to check with each branch as to their policies for your particular situation.

Did you miss Part 1: Issues with Defaulting on Student Loans

Did you miss Part 2: Military Debt Issues


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