I Was a National Guard Nurse With Loads of Student Loans

Dear Steve,

I am a nurse who graduated in 1997. I went into default and had my wages garnished for nearly two years. I was in the Florida Army National Guard and one of the benefits was student loan repayment of $20,000. I took out a grand total of $30,000 thinking I would only have to pay back $10,000 since the Guard would pay the other $20,000. The Guard never paid on my loans, I filled out paper work as I was required but of course I no longer have that paperwork.

After being in default, garnishment and rehab I finally was able to consolidate my loans-over $60,000 worth. I feel as though I was robbed. Since I went into default I do not qualify for any help from the state, I am a critical care nurse who works in a critical needs hospital. I considered doing the loan forgiveness but my payments would be over $700.00 and paid off in 10 years, which I cannot afford. I want to continue on with my education but cannot afford, I pay $475/month. Thank you for any help, I feel so frustrated!!

What can I do to get the Guard to pay $20,000 to me that is owed? Also, shouldn’t they pay more since they never paid on them and I know owe double what I borrowed due to them not fulfilling their contract?


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Dear Colleen,

Your situation seems fairly straight forward.

I would first contact the Florida National Guard unit you were assigned to and get the necessary documentation if you qualified for loan forgiveness under the following National Guard program. That seems to be something you can pick back up again as long as some critical deadline hasn’t been missed.

But your statement about the unaffordable ten year payments is puzzling.

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which you allude to, you would need to be employed with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a not-for-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

A private not-for-profit employer that is not a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC may be a qualifying public service organization if it provides certain specified public services. These services include emergency management, military service, public safety, or law enforcement services; public health services; public education or public library services; school library and other school-based services; public interest law services; early childhood education; public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. The organization must not be a labor union or a partisan political organization.

Under this program you do not need to make the full ten year monthly payment. You can consolidate your loans through the department of education, see this, and elect to repay your loans under an income based repayment program. This payment would be calculated based on your available discretionary income.

So what would really happen is you would make a reduced payment for ten years and then whatever the balance is, would be forgiven.

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