Of the millions of veterans who’ve served our country, many are disabled as a result of their service. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of veterans have a service-connected disability. On top of other challenges, keeping up with student loan payments while disabled can be impossible.
The Trump administration announced Monday a new initiative to help disabled veterans with their student loans. It aims to streamline the loan forgiveness process and proactively reach out to veterans about their options.
The Trump administration’s plan for student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans
The Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have partnered to make federal student loan discharge more accessible for veterans.
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed much for our country. It is important that, in return, we do all we can to give them the support and care they deserve,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a press release from the Department of Education. “Simplifying the loan forgiveness process and proactively identifying veterans with federal student loans who may be eligible for a discharge is a small but critical way we can show our gratitude for veterans’ service.”
Under this new initiative, the Department of Education will use the National Student Loan Data System and VA database to identify veterans with federal student loans. It will then send those veterans a customized letter explaining total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge and its eligibility criteria as well as an application for discharge.
By proactively reaching out to veterans, the Department of Education and VA hope to raise awareness about TPD discharge and help more disabled veterans qualify for loan forgiveness.
What is TPD discharge?
Under TPD discharge, the government will forgive the remaining balance on your federal student loans.
To qualify for TPD discharge, you must be able to prove you are totally and permanently disabled. There are three ways you can do so:
- If you’re a veteran, you can submit documentation from the VA showing you’re unemployable because of a service-related injury.
- If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you can submit a notice of your benefits to the government.
- Your physician can submit a certification that you’re totally and permanently disabled. They must certify that you’re unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment.
Keep in mind that TPD discharge has tax implications. When the government forgives your loans, the balance is considered taxable income. So, if the government discharges a large amount of your student loan debt, you could face a hefty tax bill.
How to apply for TPD discharge
Besides receiving an application under the new initiative, there are a few other ways you can obtain an application for TPD discharge:
- You can download and print a blank application.
- You can request an application by phone at 888-303-7818 or by email at email@example.com.
- You can start an application online.
Once you’ve filled out the application, you must either attach supporting documentation that proves you’re permanently and totally disabled or have your physician fill out Section 4, depending on your situation.
Then, you’ll mail your application and any supporting documentation to the following address:
U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 87130
Lincoln, NE 68501-7130
What to do if you have private student loans
It’s important to know that only federal student loans are eligible for TPD discharge. If you took out private student loans, they won’t qualify.
However, some private loan lenders do offer loan forgiveness if you have a disability. For example, Sallie Mae, Discover, and Wells Fargo will waive your loan balance if you’re totally and permanently disabled. To find out if your lender offers loan discharge, contact your loan servicer directly.
Managing your loans
The Trump administration’s new initiative might help more disabled veterans learn about TPD discharge and provide them with much-needed student loan relief.
However, if you think you could qualify for TPD discharge, you don’t have to wait for the VA or Department of Education to reach out to you. You can complete the application and start the process on your own, which might help you get student loan forgiveness sooner.
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