Beshear Calls for Automatic Student Loan Debt Relief for Permanently Disabled Veterans

Bipartisan coalition issues letter as country prepares to honor fallen troops on Memorial Day

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 24, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear joined a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general today 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.

Last year, DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability, the attorneys general note in their letter. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, but more than 25,000 had student loans in default.

The coalition calls on DOE to develop a process for automatically discharging the student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for such relief.

While the automatic discharge process is in development, the letter proposes, DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans.

“Kentucky’s veterans have put service to their state and their country ahead of their own self-interests,” Beshear said. “On this Memorial Day, we honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice but we should also recognize the sacrifices these permanently and totally disabled veterans have made during their service to the American people. At the very least, they deserve our respect and relief from any student loan debt collection actions.”

Attorneys general in the neighboring states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia joined Beshear in the call. 

Under federal law, 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 DOE currently requires disabled veterans to take affirmative steps to apply for a loan discharge, those steps are not required by law.

Beshear has made standing up for Kentucky’s veterans a priority in his office.

After an AARP study found that nearly eight out of 10 veterans were targeted with a scam as a result of their service, Beshear’s office began a Scam Alerts initiative outreach program to talk with veterans and military families about preventing scams.

Beshear has also warned Kentucky’s veterans of a sham veterans charity dubbed, “Coalition for Veterans of America” and other common scams that trend around military related holidays. The office also assists veterans and their families by helping them recover from scams.

In 2017, Beshear notified impacted Kentucky veterans that they are eligible for federal debt relief after being victimized by the Corinthian Colleges Inc.