The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 and other acts (Higher Education Act), honors veterans who are totally and permanently disabled as a result of their service to the Nation by providing for the discharge of their Federal student loan debt. Borrowers who have been determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected condition and who provide documentation of that determination to the Secretary of Education are entitled to the discharge of such debt.
For the last decade, veterans seeking loan discharges have been required to submit an application to the Secretary of Education with proof of their disabilities obtained from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The process has been overly complicated and difficult, and prevented too many of our veterans from receiving the relief for which they are eligible. This has inflicted significant hardship and serious harm on these veterans and has frustrated the intent of the Congress that their Federal student loan debt be discharged.
Only half of the approximately 50,000 totally and permanently disabled veterans who currently qualify for the discharge of their Federal student loan debt have availed themselves of the benefits provided to them by the Higher Education Act.
This memorandum, signed by President Trump, is intended to create a quick, efficient, and minimally burdensome process for applying to and receiving this benefit. The memorandum asks the Secretaries of Education and Veterans’ Affairs to work together and in a timely manner to fix this process and to find a new manner in which to share disability determinations with the Department of Education.