Relief for students called to active duty

U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee knows all about repaying student loans.

Kildee’s two sons are both in the military reserves and attending graduate school – one at the University of Michigan and the other at Harvard University.

They’re part of the reason Kildee, a Democrat from Flint, Mich., is one of the main sponsors of a bill that would defer student loan payments when the borrower is called to active duty from the reserves or National Guard.

“It’s very difficult financially under ordinary circumstances,” Kildee said of repaying student loans. “But being called back to active duty would make it even more difficult.”

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2001 would grant the Secretary of Education the power to relax repayment obligations for student loans, allowing students called to active duty to reduce or delay monthly payments.

The federal government would pick up any interest penalties that would be charged during this period, and students would remain responsible for repaying the principal after they return to reserve status.

The law would apply to students who miss class time and registration while they’re gone. Their loans could become due if they are no longer registered for class.

It would also apply to those who are out of school and in the process of repaying their loans. Kildee said this group would probably be more affected by a military call-up.

“The ones who are really going to be feeling the pressure are those who are in the workforce, and are repaying out of their wages,” Kildee said. “But it does apply to both groups.”

The bill is before the House Education and Work Force Committee.