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1.4.4.2 Other Protections and Programs for Servicemembers

The HEA provides unique deferment, forbearance, and other rights for active-duty servicemembers.168 Both the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have online resources and directories to help servicemembers navigate the range of programs and options.169

There may be state claims as well to protect servicemembers attending school. For example, Ohio requires that institutions of higher education grant active-duty military students a leave of absence without academic penalty while the student is serving on active duty. There are also provisions for refunds or credits of tuition.170

In addition, Congress, in 2008, passed new provisions, including re-admission requirements for servicemembers and prohibitions on interest accrual in the Direct Loan Program.171 FFEL Consolidation Loan borrowers may reconsolidate with Direct Loans to use this program.172

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) limits collection tactics and enforcement of claims against active-duty military personnel.173 These protections, as well as SCRA interest rate benefits, are discussed in Chapters 2 and 8, infra.

Military servicemembers may also have claims against the military in cases involving false promises or misrepresentations about educational benefits. These are difficult cases because of the judicial deference to the military and because recruiting violations are generally considered to be internal disciplinary matters with no recourse available for recruits.174 Limited judicial oversight may be allowed, particularly if the individual has not completed his or her military service and is seeking to rescind the enlistment agreement.175

Footnotes

  • 168 {168} See §§ 4.3.5.4 (deferments), 4.4 (forbearance), infra.

  • 169 {169} See Consumer Fin. Prot. Bureau, For Servicemembers: Tackling Student Loan Debt, available at www.consumerfinance.gov; U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Fed. Student Aid, For Members of the U.S. Armed Forces: What You Need to Know About Your Federal Student Loan Benefits, available at https://studentaid.ed.gov.

  • 170 {170} Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3345.53 (West) (includes private right of enforcement); Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3332.20 (West) (leave of absence and other requirements apply to career colleges and schools). See generally U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, GAO-07-11, Higher Education: More Information Could Help Education Determine the Extent to Which Eligible Servicemembers Serving on Active Duty Benefited from Relief Provided by Lenders and Schools 17 (Nov. 2006).

  • 171 {171} Pub. L. No. 110-315, § 487, 122 Stat. 3078 (Aug. 14, 2008) (re-admission requirements), codified at 20 U.S.C. § 1091c; Pub. L. No. 110-315, § 451, 122 Stat. 3263 (Aug. 14, 2008) (interest accrual for active duty servicemembers), codified at 20 U.S.C. § 1087e(o). See § 2.3.1, infra.

  • 172 {172} See § 1.4.1.3.1, supra.

  • 173 {173} 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901 to 4043. See generally National Consumer Law Center, Collection Actions Ch. 7 (4th ed. 2017), updated at www.nclc.org/library.

    Regulations now require that FFEL Program loan holders determine which borrowers may be eligible for SCRA benefits and apply those benefits to eligible loans. See, e.g., 34 C.F.R. § 682.202(a)(8) (interest rate caps).

  • 174 {174} See generally Anna M. Schleelein, The Legal Implications of Unauthorized Promises and Other Military Recruiter Misconduct, 17 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 141 (Fall 2007).

  • 175 {175} Id. The main obstacle is that military enlistment agreements generally do not give rise to contract rights. See, e.g., Sonnenfeld v. United States, 62 Fed. Cl. 336 (Fed. Cl. 2004).