TOPEKA – (August 21, 2019) – Following a request by Kansas and 46 state and territory attorneys general, President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
“Today’s announcement will ensure that eligible disabled veterans will receive the loan-forgiveness the law provides to them for their military service and substantial sacrifice,” Schmidt said. “This is the right decision – it is the right thing to do. Under the prior federal policy, far too many disabled veterans were facing insurmountable obstacles to actually securing the student loan forgiveness the law provides for them.”
Under federal law, DOE is required to discharge the federal student loans of veterans determined by the VA to be unemployable because of a service-connected disability. Prior to today’s presidential directive, DOE had required disabled veterans to take affirmative steps to apply for a loan discharge even though those steps were not required by law. Although more than 42,000 disabled veterans had been determined eligible for student-loan relief, by April 2018 fewer than 9,000 had applied to have their loans discharged. More than 25,000 eligible veterans with service-connected disability had student loans in default.
Schmidt, along with attorneys general from 46 other states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, in May sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos calling on the DOE to develop a process to discharge the eligible loans automatically rather than merely responding to individual applications. Today’s action directs the DOE and VA to implement the change the attorneys general requested.
A copy of the letter sent by the attorneys general in May is available at https://bit.ly/2JBDMUr. The presidential memorandum signed today by the president is available at http://bit.ly/2P4rWFD.