August 22, 2019

After Years of Pressure, Warren, Murray Applaud Trump Administration Finally Implementing Automatic Student Debt Relief to Veterans with Disabilities

After years of pressure from Senate Democrats, Secretary DeVos will finally automatically cancel student loans of veterans disabled from service; Under federal law, veterans who have been “permanently and totally” disabled are eligible for student loan discharges; Senate Democrats have spent years urging Secretary DeVos to streamline this process and provide more veterans with disabilities with automatic relief

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statements today on the Trump administration announcing it will finally begin to automatically discharge student loans of veterans who have been severely disabled from injuries they sustained from combat or other military service. The move comes after years of pressure from senators on both sides of the aisle, requests from veterans service organizations, and a letter from 51 state attorneys general.
"No one should have to struggle under a mountain of unsustainable student debt -- especially not veterans who have sacrificed for our country,” said Senator Warren. "I'm glad that disabled veterans will finally get the debt cancellation they deserve without having to jump through any bureaucratic hoops."
“Servicemembers who carry the visible and invisible wounds of war from their sacrifice to our country shouldn’t be forced to jump through hoops when they get home just to get the student loan debt cancellation they are entitled to under the law,” said Senator Murray. “After years of pressure from Republicans, Democrats and veterans advocates, I’m glad the Trump Administration has finally decided to do the right thing when it comes to veterans disabled in combat, but there are also hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers, including many veterans, entitled to debt relief who are still struggling—and I’m going to keep holding Secretary DeVos’ feet to the fire to ensure every student gets what they are owed.”
Under the Higher Education Act, veterans who have been “permanently and totally” disabled from their service or who have qualified for Individual Unemployability according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are eligible to have their student loans cancelled. Senators Warren and Murray, alongside Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Secretary DeVos to automatically discharge student loans for disabled veterans. The senators have long pressured  Secretary of Education DeVos to streamline and simplify this process, including to proactively notify veterans with disabilities about their eligibility to discharge their loans.
All three of Senator Warren’s brothers served in the military.  She deeply appreciates the sacrifices and contributions that veterans, servicemembers and their families make for our country. As a senator, she has fought hard for student veterans and military borrowers:
  • She secured new protections for active-duty servicemembers illegally overcharged on federal student loans and helped obtain refunds for over 80,000 military borrowers after pressuring the Department of Education to act. Senator Warren’s report and the Education Department's Office of Inspector General investigation she prompted eventually led the Secretary of Education to agree to conduct new reviews and refund money to over 80,000 military borrowers who were overcharged on their federal student loans between 2008 and 2014.
  • She helped pass a bipartisan measure to protect student veterans from the consequences of delayed G.I. Bill benefit processing.
  • She helped secure G.I. Bill educational benefits for Purple Heart recipients who were previously deemed ineligible. Senator Warren joined Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and other senators to introduce bipartisan legislation to expand eligibility to all Purple Heart recipients. This change was signed into law as part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act in August 2017.
  • She fought for an agreement, announced in April 2019, between the Departments of Defense and Education to automate for servicemembers a benefit that exempts them from paying any interest on their student loans while serving in war zones. She continues to advocate for those who paid such interest in the past to receive refunds.