Disabled People Are Struggling to Get Help With Student Loans. They’re Entitled to It By Law.

Hundreds of thousands of permanently disabled people are eligible for student loan forgiveness under federal law. But an NPR investigation has revealed that just 28% of them have had their loans discharged by the U.S. Department of Education. That stands in stark contrast to the official figure of 40% which the Department has provided Congress. Now lawmakers want answers as to why so few loans are being discharged for the disabled, and why there is such a lack of transparency.

This is not the first time the Department of Education has had to answer for inaction on student loan forgiveness. As CalSchoolNews reported in August, 99% of applicants for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program have been denied. That has prompted questions from California’s attorney general

Disabled borrowers that NPR spoke to said there was little to no awareness about the forgiveness program. And when people did learn about it, bureaucratic confusion and disorganization often prevented them from taking advantage.

You can read the full reporting from NPR on the disabled student loan forgiveness issues here. In the meantime, some highlights:

  • Between 2016 and 2019, the Education Department identified 555,000 permanently disabled people who qualify for student loan forgiveness.
  • Just 200,000 (36%) had their loans conditionally discharged.
  • 44,000 of those discharged loans were later reinstated for one reason or another, usually because of a paperwork issue.

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