Student Loan Debt Relief: College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA)
By Col Roberta Moro, Chief, Professional Development Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General
/ Published September 10, 2009
Washington, DC --
Do you have student loan debt? Are you a JAG Corps recruiter? If you answered yes to either question, then you need to "be in the know" about the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) of 2007. This Act's programs can lower your monthly payments, lead to partial loan forgiveness, and enhance your recruiting efforts.
The recent student loan data call revealed that approximately 85% of our Corps' company grade officers have student loan debt. Of those with debt, the average outstanding principal is $82,000. However, only 33% of the officers said that they know about the CCRAA.
The CCRAA has significant potential to lessen your student loan burden. First, the Act creates the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan. If you qualify under the plan's "partial financial hardship" calculation, your monthly payments will be based on your adjusted gross income, not your student loan debt. All federally guaranteed loans are eligible. The IBR will start on 1 July 2009.
Second, the Act establishes a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. After 120 "qualifying" monthly payments, the remainder of your Federal Direct student loan(s) will be forgiven. "Qualifying" payments are those made under the IBR, Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan, or Standard 10-year Repayment Plan while employed full-time in the public service sector (includes active duty military). Payments made under the extended repayment plan are not "qualifying" payments, so you will want to consider changing to the IBR or ICR. Only loans under the Federal Direct Loan program, such as Direct Stafford and Direct PLUS loans, are eligible for forgiveness. An additional benefit of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is that the amount forgiven is not taxable.
The CCRAA is a tremendous recruiting tool. It is imperative that our Corps' recruiters educate themselves on the Act's provisions, so they can discuss this issue at various recruiting events.
Below you will find a link to an information sheet that further explains the CCRAA's IBR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. In addition, links to the CCRAA, the Department of Education's implementing regulations, and frequently asked questions are posted on the JAX FLITE web page. If you have any CCRAA experiences from which you think other members of the Corps would benefit, I invite you to e-mail my POC, Major Christine Lamont, at firstname.lastname@example.org -- please include your contact information so that we can follow up with any questions.