Skip to content

After Years of Pressure, Murray, Warren 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 Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 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 groups, and a letter from 51 state attorneys general.


“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.”


“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.”


Under the Higher Education Act, veterans who have been “totally and permanently” disabled from their service or have an individual unemployability rating are eligible to have their student loans cancelled. Senators Murray and Warren, alongside Senator Reed urged Secretary DeVos to automatically discharge student loans for disabled veterans. The Senators have long pressured Secretary DeVos to streamline and simplify this process, including to proactively notify veterans with disabilities about their eligibility to discharge their loans. Senator Murray also worked with Senator Reed to secure language in the Veterans Appropriations bill report, and Senator Murray inserted companion provisions in the Education Appropriations bill, for Fiscal Year 2018 to help facilitate student loan discharges for veterans with disabilities. 


However, Secretary DeVos has continued to block other relief and discharges for veterans with student loans. Many veterans with disabilities that are not service-connected are entitled to loan discharge, but are left out of the Trump Administration’s announcement making relief automatic. Secretary DeVos has also refused to approve a single claim made by hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers who have been cheated and defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges (including many veterans) and are entitled to relief under the law. Recent data shows that almost 180,000 students are stuck paying back loans on worthless or non-existent degrees, while Secretary DeVos has not approved a single claim in more than a year. Veterans with student debt have also not yet received automatic relief from total and permanent disability discharges that are not service-connected, closed school discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.