In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) introduced this legislation to ensure that eligible permanently disabled veterans are able to access federal student loan debt forgiveness, which they’re already eligible for but may face a paperwork barrier in obtaining:
“Congress has an obligation to ease the challenges our veterans face when they come home and return to civilian life. This important bipartisan legislation provides a clear pathway for eligible disabled veterans to receive a benefit they have earned through their service and sacrifice."
Original cosponsor Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) added:
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed immensely for our freedom and way of life. It is unacceptable that many disabled veterans continue to be saddled by high levels of student debt.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), who has introduced a companion Senate version of this legislation, adds:
“Veterans who have become disabled during their service to our nation should have their student loans forgiven without delay and without cumbersome red tape. Our bill will require the Department of Education to automatically discharge student loans for eligible individuals and help to ensure that no veteran falls through the cracks due to a clerical error. I’m pleased with the support we’ve received from numerous veterans' organizations, and I urge my colleagues to support swift passage of this bill to provide this overdue assistance for the courageous servicemembers who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”
This legislation has 67 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 46 Democrats and 21 Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), has one cosponsor, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
Student Veterans of America, The Retired Enlisted Association, Veterans Education Success, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, 51 state attorneys general, and multiple tax law experts support this legislation.
Of Note: In October 2018, the Dept. of Education established a program with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify veterans who are disabled or unable to work and give them the ability to have their student loan debt forgiven. Under this program, the Dept. of Education notifies veterans who are eligible for debt forgiveness of their eligibility, after which point each veteran is responsible for filing the necessary paperwork. To date, although the Dept. of Education has identified over 42,000 eligible veterans, only 20% of eligible veterans have applied for debt forgiveness.
On August 21, 2019, the White House announced an Executive Order discharging totally and permanently disabled veterans’ federal student loan debt. While Rep. Lamb praised the order when it was announced, he argued that this legislation is still needed to ensure this change is codified in federal law.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Pekic)