Published: March 2020

Advocates call for automatic discharge of student loan debt for disabled borrowers

A coalition of more than 30 advocate groups asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to automatically erase the federal student loan debt of roughly 350,000 student borrowers with disabilities nationwide. Currently, the Department’s application process is so burdensome that most disabled borrowers never get the help they're entitled to under law, while many more are not even aware that they qualify for a loan discharge. In fact, over 60% of eligible borrowers identified have not applied for the relief. In the worst cases, the Department has gone as far as seizing disability benefits that many borrowers with disabilities depend on to survive, as a means to collect on defaulted federal student loans. These borrowers are due critical relief now.

A coalition of more than 30 advocate groups called on the U.S. Department of Education to discharge the debt of thousands of student loan borrowers who have severe disabilities and qualify to have their federal student loans erased under the Higher Education Act. In 2019, the Department of Education began the process of automatically discharging federal student loan debt for disabled veterans identified as eligible for disability relief by the Department of Veterans Affairs, citing the application process as a hurdle preventing many veterans from receiving relief. Precisely the same rationale applies to these Americans with disabilities.


Lead Organization

National Student Legal Defense Network

Other Organizations

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO | Americans for Financial Reform | Center for Responsible Lending | Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., Delaware | Community Legal Services of Philadelphia | Consumer Action | Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund | East Bay Community Law Center | Easterseals | Generation Progress | Greater Boston Legal Services, Consumer Rights Unit (on behalf of its lowincome clients) | Hildreth Institute | Justice in Aging | National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) | National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare | National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients) | National Council on Independent Living | National Disability Institute | National Disability Rights Network | National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives | National Student Legal Defense Network (Student Defense) | New America Higher Education Program | NextGen California | Paralyzed Veterans of America PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts) | Project on Predatory Student Lending | Student Debt Crisis | Student Veterans of America | The Arc of the United States | The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) | Veterans Education Success | Young Invincibles

More Information

Click here to read the full letter.

Please visit the National Student Legal Defense Network to learn more.

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