JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Attorney generals from across America are urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled while in service to our country.
Under current federal law, the DOE is required to discharge the federal student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable (or totally and permanently disabled) due to a service-connected condition. But the DOE requires disabled veterans to apply for a loan discharge, even though those steps aren’t actually required by law.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and 50 other attorneys general want to see that process streamlined. In their letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, they urge the DOE to develop a process to automatically discharge the student loans of eligible veterans. They also suggest that while the automatic discharge process is in development, the DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans.
“As attorney general, I have a responsibility to make sure our veterans, as consumers, are treated fairly on matters such as student loan payments. There should be no pause in deciding whether to help our veterans in this way,” General Hood said. “These honored citizens have had their lives completely changed as a result of their sacrifice and duty to our nation, and it is only right that we relieve them of this additional burden.”
Last year, DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability. However, fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.
The attorneys general note that the federal government has taken some steps to make it easier for eligible veterans to secure student loan relief. According to their letter, however, an automatic discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons “would eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens and ensure that all eligible disabled veterans can receive a discharge.”
“Proposals for automatic discharges with opt-out rights have bipartisan support in Congress and among leading veterans’ advocacy organizations,” the letter states.
The veterans groups supporting such proposals have included: Vietnam Veterans for America, Veterans Education Success, The Retired Enlisted Association, High Ground Advocacy, and Ivy League Veterans Council.
Read the full letter to Sec. DeVos Here: https://bit.ly/2HUEuIO