President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday alleviating tens of thousands of permanently disabled U.S. military veterans from “every penny” of their student loan debt.
All eligible veterans will also be cleared from having to pay federal income tax on the loans.
Trump signed the executive order following a speech at the American Veterans National Convention in Kentucky.
The action is worthy of veterans “who have made immense sacrifices, the ultimate sacrifice in many ways, for our nation,” the president declared.
“The debt of these disabled veterans will be completely erased,” he said. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt held by our severely wounded warriors. It’s gone forever.”
The executive action mandates the Department of Education “to eliminate every penny of federal student loan debt owed by American veterans who are completely and permanently disabled” and instructs the government to develop an “expedited” process allowing veterans to have their federal student loan debt furloughed “with minimal burdens.”
The current application process veterans are required to submit for student loan forgiveness is exorbitantly burdensome. Disabled veterans, who have a VA service-connected disability rating of 100 percent are able to absolve their debt under a loan forgiveness program called Total and Permanent Disability Discharge. But only half of the qualifying 50,000 eligible veterans took advantage of the program.
Every state must implement the new directive, Trump warned.
Congress is considering bipartisan legislation, the Federally Requiring Earned Education-Debt Discharges for Veterans Act, or FREED Vets Act, that would shift the burden of student loan debt held by disabled veterans onto American taxpayers, regardless of whether the veteran applies for the program.
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