Student loan deferment has been one of the executive branch’s efforts to mitigate the financial affects of COVID-19. On August 6, the Department of Education announced a final extension of the student loan payment pause until Jan. 31, 2022. If you’re someone who is counting on student loan deferment to keep your financial house in order, you may want to make sure you’re not using today’s deferment policies to try to mitigate yesterday’s defaulted payments.
True or False: Thanks to Student Loan Deferment Policies, Defaulted Student Loans Won’t Mean a Clearance Denial
We’ve covered changing policies about student loan deferment here at ClearanceJobs. Often considered a ‘good debt,’ there was a long time when student loans were considered ‘good debt’ and potentially a lesser issue than high volumes of consumer debt. But that was in the era before six figure plus student loans and the high volume of individuals defaulting on payments.
A 2020 Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals clearance denial noted an applicant who had defaulted on four student loans and was failing to make payments. In the response to the Statement of Reasons, the individual noted the four defaulted loans, but cited the executive branch decision to defer student loans as a mitigating factor in her failure to repay her student loans. Unfortunately, the executive branch decision came in 2020 – and the individual defaulted on her loans in 2017. The judge did not consider the current policy, or the applicant’s argument that failing to obtain a security clearance would hurt her career prospects.
When appealing a security clearance denial, it’s important to carefully consider the timelines involved. An appeal is based on proving the government didn’t consider the evidence in an appropriate manner. Providing evidence or a justification for behavior based on a policy that wasn’t even in place at the time of the denial is not going to be effective.
False: Don’t Count on Student Loan Deferrals to Help You Keep Your Clearance
Using policy to make your security clearance case is a good strategy. Unfortunately, the policy can’t apply retroactively. Don’t put off paying your bills today in the hopes that help will come through a new executive branch decision, a policy update, or even waiting for a change in your financial status.
And just because a security clearance is ‘vital’ to your career doesn’t make it vital for the government to issue you one. This DOHA case outlined how the government will only issue a security clearance when it is in its own best interests – and it doesn’t consider whether it’s in yours.