On August 21, 2019, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum that streamlines the process by which totally and permanently disabled veterans can discharge their Federal student loans (Federal Family Education Loan Program loans, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program loans, and Federal Perkins Loans). Through the revamped process, veterans will be able to have their Federal student loan debt discharged more quickly and with less burden.
Under federal law, borrowers who have been determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected condition and who provide documentation of that determination to the Secretary of Education are entitled to the discharge of such debt. For the last decade, veterans seeking loan discharges have been required to submit an application to the Secretary of Education with proof of their disabilities obtained from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only half of the approximately 50,000 totally and permanently disabled veterans who qualify for the discharge of their Federal student loan debt have availed themselves of the benefits provided to them.
The Memorandum directs the Secretary of Education to develop as soon as practicable a process, consistent with applicable law, to facilitate the swift and effective discharge of applicable debt. In response, the Department of Education has said that it will be reaching out to more than 25,000 eligible veterans. Veterans will still have the right to weigh their options and to decline Federal student loan discharge within 60 days of notification of their eligibility. Veterans may elect to decline loan relief either because of potential tax liability in some states, or because receiving loan relief could make it more difficult to take future student loans. Eligible veterans who do not opt out will have their remaining Federal student loan debt discharged.