The Army National Guard has “temporarily suspended” payments to soldiers eligible for student loan repayment incentives, according to a National Guard Bureau spokesperson.
“The Army National Guard temporarily suspended Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) payments that were owed between FY20-FY22,” said bureau spokesperson Deidre Forster in a statement emailed to Army Times. Forster pointed to “insufficient funding specific to the SLRP incentive” as the reason for the halt.
In a subsequent email, Forster clarified that the agency has funds to resume the payments, but doing so will “require technical accounting steps…to realign funding.”
The component’s typical loan repayment program offers up to $50,000 towards a soldier’s qualifying federal student loans in return for a six-year commitment, according to an online guide. The Army then pays the soldier’s loan servicer a portion of the benefit on the contract’s anniversary each year.
Payments that came due between fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2022 are impacted by the pause, Forster said. It’s not clear how many soldiers are impacted by the pause.
According to Defense Department marketing studies, prospective troops consider education benefits a strong draw to the military, second only to its regular paychecks. And after the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s attempt to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loans for 43 million Americans, some may be searching for new ways to pay their debts.
Forster, the bureau spokesperson, noted the funding problem has not stopped the Army Guard from creating new loan repayment agreements.
But the Army Guard isn’t the only corner of the military to see a benefit exhaust its funds this summer, either.
The Air Force announced July 10 that it was halting some permanent change of station moves, retention bonuses, and other cash incentives because its personnel costs are rising more quickly than previously projected.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.