Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter Dec. 5 to the U.S. Department of Education urging the department’s acting inspector general, Sandra Bruce, to investigate the federal student loan discharge process for Americans with total and permanent disabilities.
The members’ letter comes after an alarming report from National Public Radio, aired earlier in the week, that found hundreds of thousands of Americans with qualifying disabilities have not received the student loan relief they are entitled to by law. In addition to Coons, the letter was signed by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine; Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Tammy Duckworth; D-Illinois; and Rob Portman, R-Ohio; along with Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin; Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island; Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania; and Don Young, R-Alaska.
Since 2016, Coons has been the leading voice in the Senate on this issue. In 2017, his Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act, a bill to remove the federal tax penalty for federal student loans that are discharged due to death or total and permanent disability, was passed into law. Coons has led several letters, sent Feb. 15, 2018, and Oct. 9, 2019, respectively, to the Department of Education urging the department to make the student loan discharge process automatic upon a borrower being matched in the database.
“We are alarmed by the findings in this NPR investigation, the reported extremely low rate of loan discharges for eligible borrowers, and the contrast between the NPR report and the information previously provided by ED,” wrote Coons and his colleagues. “We are also concerned by ED’s lack of transparency with Congress and failure to provide timely, verifiable information. Most importantly, it appears that ED’s process for TPD loan discharges is failing to provide student loan relief to hundreds of thousands of Americans, including veterans, who are entitled to this relief under the law.”
The full letter available at bit.ly/34YqDvF.