May 24, 2019
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a group of 51 attorneys general urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service. The bipartisan coalition issued its letter as the country prepares to honor fallen troops on Memorial Day.
Last year, the DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, however, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.
The letter calls on the DOE to develop a process to automatically discharge the student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for such relief. The letter proposes that while the automatic discharge process is in development, the DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans, and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans.
“The Department of Education should take action to better protect those who once protected our nation,” said AG Ford. “Our proposal for automatic student loan forgiveness has received bipartisan support among states, Congressional leaders and veterans groups, and I’m proud send this letter and advocate for our veterans who deserve the very best.”
Under federal law, the DOE is required to discharge the federal student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable (or totally and permanently disabled) due to a service-connected condition. Although the DOE currently requires disabled veterans to take affirmative steps to apply for a loan discharge, those steps are not required by law.
The attorneys general note that the federal government has taken some steps to make it easier for eligible veterans to secure student loan relief. According to their letter, however, an automatic discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons would eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens and ensure that all eligible disabled veterans can receive a discharge.
The letter supporting automatic student loan discharges for totally and permanently disabled veterans received support from enough Attorneys General to become formal policy of the National Association of Attorneys General. This designation is reserved for letters and comments supported by at least 36 attorneys general.
In addition to Nevada, the following states and territories participated in this letter: Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.