In a surprising move by the Trump administration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week that could potentially give thousands of servicemembers better access to student loan forgiveness. Coming after criticism about the administration’s actions on behalf of veterans from attorneys general nationwide, the order stands to streamline eligibility for the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge program.
The event took place at the AMVETS Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, after a speech by Trump himself, who said before the signing, “In a few moments, I will sign a memorandum directing the Department of Education to eliminate every penny of federal student loan debt owed by American veterans who are completely and permanently disabled.”
With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Deputy Secretary of the V.A. James Byrne in attendance, President Trump’s signing of the executive order aims to speed up the application and approval process for veterans applying to the TPD Discharge program. If executed as ordered, discharges on eligible student loans should roll out more quickly, helping up to 25,000 veterans get approved for relief from student debt.
The new process takes into account a program launched in 2018 by Secretary DeVos, who implemented steps to identify eligible veterans to sign up for the discharge program. If the action is executed as promised, eligible veterans will receive a notice they likely qualify for the program, and will be given 60 days to opt out or go ahead with debt cancellation.
Currently, the TPD Discharge program requires servicemembers and other disabled applicants to jump through a series of hoops to prove their eligibility. Additionally, the length of the approval process has come under fire since its inception, leaving many to believe the government may not have veterans’ best interests in mind. To date, only about half of the 50,000 eligible veterans who have applied have been approved.
Beyond streamlining the approval process, President Trump told conference attendees what motivated the signing, stating, “I am proud to announce that I am taking executive action to ensure that our wounded warriors are not saddled with mountains of student debt. They have made a sacrifice that’s so great. And they’re such incredible people. And they never complain. They never complain. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt held by our severely wounded warriors. It’s gone forever.”
The TPD Discharge program is just one of several loan forgiveness programs for military servicemembers and veterans. But as the only program designed for duty-related injuries, making the program more accessible and efficient gives many who qualify hope for a debt-free future.
In addition to cancelling debt for thousands of wounded veterans and servicemembers, the executive action also ensures eligible veterans won’t have to pay federal income taxes on loans that are forgiven. As part of the action, the President also plans to insist on states doing the same by removing the state tax burden.
Are you a veteran with a service-related disability? You might qualify for the TPD Discharge program and have your student debt forgiven completely. Discover what steps you need to take to earn loan forgiveness by filling out our online form or calling (800) 670-4196 to speak with a student loan specialist.