President Donald Trump signs a memorandum on veterans’ student loan debt following his speech at the AMVETS 75th National Convention in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 21, 2019. (Susan Walsh/AP)

On Wednesday, August 21st, 2019, President Donald Trump announced that his administration will expedite the process for forgiving the Federal student loan debt of eligible veterans. While at the 75th convention of AMVETS in Louisville, KY, he signed a memorandum on discharging the federal Student loan debt of totally and permanently disabled veterans. Doing this will order the Department of Education to eliminate the federal student loan debt owned by American veterans who are completely and permanently disabled. Trump stated that “Altogether, this action will wipe out an average of $30,000 in debt owed by more than 25,000 eligible veterans.”

Because of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and the Higher Education Act of 2008, federal student loan debt is already discharged for veterans who are totally and permanently disabled. The problem is, the application process can be complicated. Veterans need to be able to prove they are eligible and that can be frustrating.

Because of this, fewer than half of the eligible veterans have used the program, which is why there is a push to change things.

This memorandum will simplify and expedite the whole process. The US Department of Education plans to notify eligible veterans about the student loan discharge that they qualify for. After 60 days of this notification, veterans can decline the discharge. They may want to do this for potential tax liability or worries about it being more difficult to get a student loan in the future.

With this memorandum, disabled veterans will not own any federal income taxes on their discharged student loans and states are being urged to do the same. A group of bipartisan attorney generals from 51 states and territories wrote to the Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, urging the Department of Education to automatically forgive the student loan debt of eligible veterans who became disabled through their military service.

AMVETS is a nonpartisan service organization that was chartered by Congress in 1947, after WWII.

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