Many members of the military make a point to go to college after separating from service, but a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suggests that a growing number of soldiers are struggling with student loan debt, according to The Associated Press.
The report, which was written by the CFPB's Office of Servicemember Affairs, found that financial institutions often provide troops with either misleading or incomplete information about the ins and outs of their loan program. As a result, borrowers may take on more debt than was originally necessary, sometimes totaling tens of thousands.
While the report offers little by way of specifics, largely because it was based on complaints filed by servicemembers, its message that there needs to be more clarity when it comes to student loans and education benefits is clear.
"Student loans are one important part of the total debt burden – from mortgages to credit cards to other debt – on those who are serving in the military today," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said recently, according to the AP.
In light of the picture painted by the latest report from the CFPB, the military is going to take some steps to help reduce the growing issue of student loan debt. Most importantly, Holly Petraeus, the director of the CFPB's Office of Servicemember Affairs, said the military is stressing education and training to help soldiers avoid the pitfalls of student loan debt.
There are also a number of benefits available to servicemembers that might help lower their debt burden, according to the AP. For instance, they may be eligible for reductions on monthly payments depending on their income and the size of their family. They may also be eligible for a reduction on interest rates if they're still in active duty.
One of the best ways for soldiers to avoid student loans is to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which offers some impressive educational benefits. For instance, the bill pays for full tuition and fees if a soldier chooses to go to a public in-state institution. And for troops attending more expensive schools, the GI Bill can help cover the cost through the Yellow Ribbon Program.