Trump's education secretary is ignoring pleas to help wounded veterans to deal with a combined $1 billion in student debt.
Attorneys general from 51 states and territories are pleading with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make it easier for wounded veterans to deal with their student loans, CNN reported on Saturday. But thus far, their pleas are falling on deaf ears.
In a bipartisan May 24 letter, states are asking that the Education Department automatically forgive student loans of eligible veterans who are "permanently and totally disabled or otherwise unemployable."
The letter argues that DeVos and the Education Department are required by a 2008 law to discharge the student loans of veterans who are "totally and permanently disabled (TPD)" from wounds received in service to the country.
As it stands now, DeVos is forcing wounded veterans to jump through hoops in order to receive the benefit, despite the fact that there is "no statutory or legal requirement that the Department of Education demand that eligible veterans affirmatively apply for TPD discharges before the Department will forgive their loans."
The requirements DeVos demands "may prove insurmountable obstacles ... for many eligible veterans due to the severe nature of their disabilities."
In total, DeVos should be helping 42,000 wounded veterans. But in reality, the Education Department has assisted fewer than 9,000.
These veterans carry more than $1 billion in student loans, and 25,000 have defaulted on their loans despite being eligible for having their debts removed, according to the letter.
The Education Department refuses to help veterans, arguing that if the debts were automatically discharged, some veterans may face a higher tax bill. The argument falls flat because federal taxes would remain unchanged, and most states do not tax wounded veterans for having their student loans discharged.
"America's veterans deserve better," says the letter from almost every state and territory.
But so far Devos refuses to remove additional hurdles for wounded veterans to get the benefits they've earned.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.