Total and permanent discharge program for veterans
By PVA National Staff
The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, honors veterans who are totally and permanently disabled as a result of their service by providing for the discharge of their federal student loan debt. It is not applicable to private student loans. For veterans to be eligible for the program they must be rated as 100 percent service connected or determined by VA to be totally disabled due to individual unemployability.
This program has been a lifesaver for veterans who are unable to meet the financial burden of paying their student loans due to the severity of their service-connected disabilities. Unfortunately, due to the lack of outreach and red tape associated with the program application, only half of the 50,000 eligible veterans have even applied to have their loans forgiven. This resulted in many veterans having their accounts placed in collection status which could have detrimental effects.
In response to this critical issue, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order that directs the Secretary of Education to develop a process to facilitate the swift and effective discharge of the federal student loan debt of totally and permanently disabled veterans. To the maximum extent feasible, the process developed by the Secretary of Education should account for and make use of disability determinations made available to the Secretary by VA. The VA and Education Secretaries are also required to consider all pathways for VA to share disability determinations with the Department of Education, so that veterans may be relieved of the burdensome administrative impediments to federal student loan debt discharge.
PVA has been advocating for easier access to this program and will work with our stakeholders on its prompt implementation.