News Releases

After years of pressure from Senator Murray and Senate Democrats, Secretary DeVos will finally automatically cancel student loans of veterans disabled from service

Under federal law, veterans who have been “permanently and totally” disabled are eligible for student loan discharges

Senate Democrats have spent years urging Secretary DeVos to streamline this process and provide more veterans with disabilities with automatic relief

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, released the following statement today on the Trump Administration announcing it will finally begin to automatically discharge student loans of veterans who have been severely disabled from injuries they sustained from combat or other military service. The move comes after years of pressure from Senators on both sides of the aisle, requests from veterans groups, and a letter from 51 state attorneys general.

“Servicemembers who carry the visible and invisible wounds of war from their sacrifice to our country shouldn’t be forced to jump through hoops when they get home just to get the student loan debt cancellation they are entitled to under the law,” said Senator Murray. “After years of pressure from Republicans, Democrats and veterans advocates, I’m glad the Trump Administration has finally decided to do the right thing when it comes to veterans disabled in combat, but there are also hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers, including many veterans, entitled to debt relief who are still struggling—and I’m going to keep holding Secretary DeVos’ feet to the fire to ensure every student gets what they are owed.”

Under the Higher Education Act, veterans who have been “totally and permanently” disabled from their service or have an individual unemployability rating are eligible to have their student loans cancelled. Senator Murray has urged Secretary DeVos to automatically discharge student loans for disabled veterans, and has long pressured Secretary DeVos to streamline and simplify this process, including to proactively notify veterans with disabilities about their eligibility to discharge their loans. Senator Murray also worked to secure language in the Veterans Appropriations bill report, and inserted companion provisions in the Education Appropriations bill, for Fiscal Year 2018 to help facilitate student loan discharges for veterans with disabilities. 

However, Secretary DeVos has continued to block other relief and discharges for veterans with student loans. Many veterans with disabilities that are not service-connected are entitled to loan discharge, but are left out of the Trump Administration’s announcement making relief automatic. Secretary DeVos has also refused to approve a single claim made by hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers who have been cheated and defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges (including many veterans) and are entitled to relief under the law. Recent data shows that almost 180,000 students are stuck paying back loans on worthless or non-existent degrees, while Secretary DeVos has not approved a single claim in more than a year. Veterans with student debt have also not yet received automatic relief from total and permanent disability discharges that are not service-connected, closed school discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 

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