United Services Military Apprenticeship Program

Military experience is an impressive resume-builder if you recognize the way to sell it, but everyone’s trying to find that extra edge — something they will copy with certificates and credentials. One option for sailors and Marines (and the Coast Guard) is that the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP), a partnership between the US Department of Labor (DOL) and therefore the military that lets service members use their on-duty experience to earn journeyman status during a trade.

Designed as an on-the-job training tool, USMAP is merely for active-duty members of the Navy, United States Marine Corps , and Coast Guard who have already got a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) or rating, a highschool diploma or GED, and enough time on their enlistment contract to end an apprenticeship. Because they’re not employed full-time during a MOS, reservists, unfortunately, cannot participate in USMAP — although they might still find civilian apprenticeships on their own (more thereon later.)

Because USMAP is meant to offer servicemembers a leg up using their actual military experience, you would like to possess a MOS/rating (or a politician assignment outside your MOS) that corresponds to a journeyman trade. (In other words, an infantryman can’t enroll for a construction apprenticeship simply because that’s the work he wants after the military — unless he’s assigned to official and regular duties, outside his MOS, working in construction.)

Public job positions refer to job positions offered by the government, state, or local. Also, working in a nonprofit qualifies you for the PSLF. In short, it means military members like you can qualify for the forgiveness program. Also, jobs like firefighters, police, and other similar jobs all qualify as government jobs, and hence qualify for the PSLF.

One eligibility criterion to look out for in PSLF is that you must enroll in income-based loan repayment. Examples of those are:

IBR Plan
ICR Plan
However, you have to do your research to know which program is the best one for you. Because some student loans can get total repayment by the end of the ten years. But PSLF is the best alternative for the numerous student borrowers out there, especially those with enormous debts.

National Defense Student Loan Discharge (NDSLD)
Have you used the National Defense Student Loan Discharge to pay for your college tuition? If so, then you can partly have the cost discharged. People with Perkins Loans and Direct Student Loan can qualify to get a part cancellation of their loan debt. That is, if they served in the Armed Forces and only if they had a one year of hostile fire or IDP area.

If you are sure that you do qualify, you can send a letter to the appropriate authority and explain why you think you are eligible for the program. The success rate is low, but it does work only if you qualify for the program.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
President Bush passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in 2003. It’s an addition to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), which was enacted in 1940. The two define the benefits given to active duty military members. There are various benefits that the law provides, but the one that connects to student loan forgiveness is as follows:

A maximum of 6% on interest rates for loan debt that a service member incurred before joining the military.
In other words, if you have a loan debt that exceeds 6% of interest rate before you joined the military, you can be eligible to get the interest rate decreased. It doesn’t only apply to student loan debts, but also car loans, mortgages, debts on credit cards, and other loan debts incurred before you enlisted in the military.

The SCRA is not like the interest in deferments, meaning that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act forgives your debt; it doesn’t delay and accumulate in later months or years. To take advantage of this program, send an official request letter to your loan servicer and have them reduce your interest rate as stipulated in the SCRA law.

You should quickly act because you get a reduction in your interest rate as long as you’re on active service duty. So, you may want to move a bit soon.

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