President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that will forgive all student loan debt for U.S. military veterans who are permanently disabled.
Trump signed the order — known as the Presidential Memorandum on Discharging the Federal Student Loan Debt of Totally and Permanently Disabled Veterans — after delivering a speech at the American Veterans (AMVETS) 75th National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
The move also clears those eligible veterans from the burden of paying anying federal income tax on the loans. The president will push individual states to do the same, he said.
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“Today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking executive action directing the Department of Education to eliminate every penny of federal student loan debt owed by American veterans who are completely and permanently disabled,” the president said on Wednesday.
“The debt of these disabled veterans will be completely erased,” Trump also said. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars of student loans debt for our disabled veterans that will be completely erased.”
The average balance that will be wiped out is around $30,000, CNBC reported.
It was my honor to sign a Presidential Memorandum facilitating the cancellation of student loan debt for 25K of our most severely disabled Veterans. With today’s order, we express the everlasting love & loyalty of a truly grateful Nation. God bless our Vets, & God Bless America! pic.twitter.com/MMMsX3RDQM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2019
The Trump-signed memo directs the federal government to develop an “expedited” process so that veterans can have their federal student loan debt discharged “with minimal burdens,” as Fox News reported.
Currently, just half of the roughly 50,000 disabled veterans who are qualified to have their federal student loan debt forgiven have received the benefit because of a cumbersome application process.
The Department of Education said it will be notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans about the student loan discharge.
And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that tens of thousands of disabled veterans may not know they’re eligible for student loan forgiveness, Forbes reported.
Overall, the new move is “a positive step to help America’s heroes and families for their selfless service,” a Forbes writer noted.
Under the process as it currently existed, disabled veterans could have their debt forgiven under a program called Total and Permanent Disability Discharge (TPD), as long as they have a Veterans Administration service-connected disability rating of 100 percent.
“We will continue to prioritize the needs of our nation’s veterans and provide them the help and support they have earned and deserve.”
As of July of this year, however, only some 20 percent of eligible veterans had used the TPD program; the application process was said to be extremely complicated.
“Supporting and caring for those who have sacrificed much in service to our country is a priority for President Trump and the entire Administration,” said Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, who was also present in Louisville on Wednesday. “I appreciate the president’s strong leadership on this issue and his willingness to provide much-needed student loan relief. We will continue to prioritize the needs of our nation’s veterans and provide them the help and support they have earned and deserve.”
Student loan forgiveness has become a major issue among many of 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidates; some, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have been urging the complete elimination of student loan debt nationwide. Americans hold some $1.6 trillion in student loan debt currently.
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