NATIONAL NEWS

US Eases Student Loan Relief For Those With Disabilities

Mar 30, 2021, 8:17 AM
FILE...
FILE

The U.S. Education Department is canceling student debt for more than 40,000 Americans who were previously granted loan forgiveness because of disabilities but later had their debt reinstated after they failed to submit certain paperwork, the agency announced Monday.

The action targets a loan forgiveness program that aims to help people with disabilities but that critics say carries overly burdensome rules. After being granted loan forgiveness, borrowers are required to submit documentation of their earnings for three years. If their earnings go beyond certain thresholds — or if they fail to submit documentation — they’re back on the hook for their loans.

Acknowledging the program’s challenges, the Education Department said it will relax the rules during the coronavirus pandemic and consider other changes to the reporting requirements in the future.

Until the federal government declares an end to the pandemic, more than 190,000 borrowers who are now in the three-year monitoring period will not be required to submit proof of their earnings, the agency said. Another 41,000 who had debt reinstated over paperwork issues will again get loan forgiveness, amounting to a combined $1.3 billion.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said borrowers with disabilities should not “put their health on the line” to submit earnings information.

The measure was a disappointment to advocates who have called for a total overhaul of the program. Student Defense, a Washington legal group, said the action helps a small fraction of borrowers eligible for the program. The group has urged Biden to automatically clear loans for all eligible borrowers, and to eliminate the monitoring period permanently.

Alex Elson, senior counsel for the group, said the new measure “is not a victory for students.”

“There are roughly 400,000 borrowers with disabilities who the Social Security Administration has already determined are legally owed debt relief,” he said. “The Department of Education knows exactly who they are but is choosing to do nothing for them.”

A senior department official briefing reporters said the agency is exploring permanent changes to the program, but that they would have to go through a federal rule-making process that requires months of negotiation.

The program was created to help people who are “totally and permanently disabled” and unable to generate significant income.

Borrowers are eligible if they can submit documentation of a mental or physical disability that has continued at least five years or is expected to last for that long. During the monitoring period, their incomes must not exceed the poverty level for a family of two in their state.

The program came under scrutiny in 2016 after a federal watchdog found that the income reporting rules were a major hurdle for borrowers. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that in 98% of cases in which loans were restored, it was because borrowers did not submit the right paperwork, and not because they were earning too much.

In 2019, the Trump administration moved to provide automatic loan discharges to military veterans who become eligible for the program. Those who have not served in the military, though, must apply for relief. Advocates estimate that nearly 70% of eligible borrowers have not received loan forgiveness and hold an estimated $14 billion in student debt.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died at the age of 66. (Arlene Richie/Shutterstock)...
Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Clarence Gilyard, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ star, dead at 66

Clarence Gilyard, the actor best known for playing computer hacker Theo in "Die Hard" and naval flight officer Marcus "Sundown" Williams in "Top Gun," has died at the age of 66.
16 hours ago
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hea...
Michael Houck

Mitt Romney calls Trump a ‘gargoyle’ after dinner with Ye, Nick Fuentes

Utah Senator Mitt Romney called former President Donald Trump a gargoyle hanging over the Republican party after his dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye.
16 hours ago
Tea time and Christmastime coincide at The Plaza's elegant Palm Court, where three holiday tea menu...
Marnie Hunter, CNN

15 luxury hotels that go all out for Christmas

These luxury hotels have the most glamorous Christmas decorations of the season.
16 hours ago
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 13: Defence ministers and delegates are seen at the start of the North ...
STEPHEN McGRATH, LORNE COOK and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

NATO renews membership vow to Ukraine, pledges arms and aid

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says war-torn Ukraine will one day become a member of the world’s largest security alliance
16 hours ago
The McGold Card is back at McDonald's. (McDonald's)...
Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

McDonald’s is giving people the chance to win free food for life

Beginning December 5, every order completed in the McDonald's app for at least $1 will enter customers into a contest to win a McGold Card.
16 hours ago
A woman in Minnesota loses peripheral vision from apparent exposure to mercury in beauty creams.
(T...
Meera Senthilingam, CNN

Mother loses peripheral vision from apparent exposure to mercury in beauty creams

A woman in Minnesota lost part of her vision and inadvertently put her entire household at risk of mercury poisoning, most likely from using beauty creams.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
US Eases Student Loan Relief For Those With Disabilities