The U.S. Department of Defense this week unveiled a new data-sharing agreement with the Education Department that aims to help servicemembers serving in war zones with a student loan benefit, Politico reported. The new policy would allow the agencies to automatically determine which servicemembers qualify to eliminate interest on their student loans during combat service.
Congress created the no-interest accrual benefit in 2008, but relatively few student loan borrowers have actually received it. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau noted the issue in 2015, estimating that servicemembers who were eligible for the zero percent interest rate had paid more than $100 million in unnecessary interest charges.
The agreement will enable the Defense and Education departments to compare information on military borrowers in existing government databases and automatically identify qualified individuals.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who previously included a directive to the Pentagon on the issue in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, praised the move as a way to help servicemembers overcome "bureaucratic red tape" in making sure they receive the benefits they are owed, reported Politico.