According to federal regulations, mobilized military, including those in active duty, National Guard and Ready Reserves called to active duty, are not required to make student loan payments during their absences. This applies to the 145,000 troops currently involved in the Middle East conflicts, representing a significant percentage of student loan borrowers. The Department of Education has required that these troops receive a level of leniency from student loan lenders.
U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige said earlier this year, "As they [deployed troops] defend the freedoms we cherish, our soldiers should not have to worry about their student loan obligations and resuming their studies." The Department of Education directed lenders to continue deferment status for all activated service members who recently left school or who were students prior to deployment.
Borrowers holding subsidized student loans are eligible to have the Federal Government assume the interest payments on their loans while deployed. Similarly, the Department of Education strongly encouraged colleges and universities to provide full refunds of tuition and related expenses to students required to withdraw from school and fulfill their military obligations.
ACFS — a student loan consolidation firm — representative Nicole Knight stated, "We want our troops to know that their efforts are appreciated. That’s why provisions have been made that will remove any anxiety or stress associated with student loans and school."
In the 2002-2003 school year, approximately $75.8 billion in federally guaranteed student aid was disbursed to students. Federal regulations were implemented to ease the minds of those who received this aid and are currently involved in the Middle East conflict. These regulations are more relevant today than ever, as thousands of soldiers have been overseas for more than a year.
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