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Can My Son Really Qualify for the Student Loan Repayment Program While Still In High School?

Q: I was told that my son would qualify to have his student loans repaid if he scores above a certain score on his entrance exam. But I am confused by this because he doesn’t graduate from high school until May so he obviously doesn’t have student loans as of yet. How would this work? Would he have to do something after he is finished with college then fill out the necessary paperwork? I have heard it’s for existing loans but was told that is for Active Army and that for the reserves it is a little different as long as he scores 50 or above he qualifies. I was also told he could get MGIB benefit monthly to help pay for his school. Is this true? Thank you for any help you can give this confused parent.

A: What he is being told about the Student Loan Repayment Program is true for the Reserves, however, it should be apparent to whomever is telling him that he isn’t eligible for the program if he plans on going active duty. The active duty Student Loan Repayment Program is only for those who have eligible Federally-insured college loans at the time they enlist. If he is still in high school, he obviously doesn’t have student loans and would not qualify for the program – they shouldn’t even discuss it with him. All they are doing is confusing both you and him. If he plan on going in the Reserves, then he could use it for student loans he acquires after enlisting. They are two separate programs even though they are titled the same – I know, it is confusing, but welcome to the military!

Just so you know, there are two Montgomery GI Bills (Yes I know, could they make it any more confusing!). If he was going on active duty, he would qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty after paying in $1,200 in MGIB contribution.

But because it sounds like he is joining the Reserves, he would qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves, which doesn’t have a required contribution. When they start throwing figures around, be sure you and him both know which GI Bill they are referring to as there is a world of difference in the pay structure between the two Bills. The one for the Reserves and National Guard pays $345 per month to go to school; the one for active duty pays $1,473 per month. With both there are 36 months of education benefits.

One more thing – if he went on active duty, he would qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill which does not cost anything. The only way he can get the Post 9/11 GI Bill in the Guard or Reserves is if he goes on a deployment on Title 10 orders. A total of three years of Title 10 orders would get him 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill which much better than either of the MGIBs.

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