10 September 2019
A presidential memorandum issued by President Trump directed the Department of Education to improve the student loan forgiveness process by making it easier for veterans with a total permanent disability (TPD).
Before the memorandum, veterans had to apply and complete the required paperwork themselves to have their student loans discharged. The program requires veterans to have a 100 percent disability classification by the Department of Veteran Affairs or be considered unemployable because of the disability.
They must also already collect Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). After the determination is made, veterans are sent a notice stating whether they are eligible. This is not the first attempt made by a sitting. president to improve the program known as the TPD Discharge program.
The Obama Administration made efforts to fix this by working with the Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration to automatically determine who is eligible and notify them of the program according to loanforgiveness.org.
Veterans Education Success, a non-partisan advocacy group for student veterans, outlined in a letter written to the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, the unfairness of making veterans with a total disability classification to complete paperwork when their disabilities can and do interfere with paperwork. Once the directive of the memorandum is implemented, the TPD discharge program will become an automatic process. Veterans will be notified of the pending discharge of their student debt and will also be given 60 days within receiving the letter to opt-out of the discharge altogether.
The opt-out option exists because there is a risk of owing money in the form of state taxes on the forgiven loan amount. There is also a risk of losing social security benefits as the forgiven loans could be considered a form of income.