Wipe Out Education Debt for Disabled Vets

Target: Besty DeVos, Secretary of U.S. Department of Education

Goal: Automatically forgive disabled veterans’ student loans.

The men and women who served and sacrificed for their country should not be burdened with crushing debt. In a rare bipartisan display, 51 attorneys general from across the country (and across the political spectrum) urged the Department of Education to provide automatic forgiveness for the student loans of disabled veterans. If enacted, this measure could relieve insurmountable debt for 42,000 current veterans and hundreds of thousands more in the future.

While all disabled veterans can currently request to have their student debt forgiven, statistics indicate that at present only 9,000 of the eligible 42,000 have made this request. Advocates for automatic forgiveness argue that many vets may be so severely physically or cognitively impaired that they literally cannot make the request. Others may be unaware of the steps they can take to eliminate student loans.

Automatic forgiveness would relieve at least one financial obstacle for individuals and families that may have mounting healthcare or similar expenses. Often, the nature of their disabilities render these individuals unable to secure stable employment that would allow them to pay back loans that can reach five or even six figures. As the attorneys general stated in their letter: “We have a moral obligation to assist those who have put their lives on the line to defend us.”

Despite these pleas, the department seems reluctant to take this reasonable and compassionate step. Sign the petition below to urge America’s educational leaders to honor those who sacrificed to safeguard America, its educators, and its students past and present.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary DeVos,

Fifty-one of America’s premier legal minds agree automatically forgiving the student loans of disabled veterans is “the least we can do” for brave individuals who have put this nation’s welfare ahead of their own “health, quality of life, and often their dreams for the future.” Why does the Department of Education seemingly stand in disagreement with this statement? At the time of year when we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, truly consider the livelihoods of those who have often given all but their lives.

You talk of tax bills and future loans, but for men and women who have lost limbs, mobility, or their very ability to think and reason, such concerns are far from a top priority. Veterans without the ability to work cannot pay debts that mount with every year. Families burdened with all-consuming healthcare responsibilities and unforgiving debt collectors in other facets of their lives should not be asked to bear this additional burden.

Why have less than one-quarter of eligible veterans requested a forgiveness of their student debts? Do you really believe the lack of action is due to a lacking need for relief? Or does an inadequate system that fails to recognize and understand these human beings’ unique needs explain the failure?

Please stop giving reasons and excuses for a seeming money-grab that comes at the expense of overburdened families. Consider their debt more than paid. Fix the system so it better serves veterans and all the students they gave so much to protect. Start with the reliable standard-bearer: forgiveness.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kai Stachowiaki




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