WASHINGTON, D.C. – If Congressional lawmakers are able to persuade U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to see things their way, parents of students who borrow money and then become totally and permanently disabled may have their loan debt erased.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the discharge of Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled. They were joined by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).
“Federal law already recognizes that the difficulties that befall someone who sustains a total and permanent disability necessitate a pathway to student loan forgiveness. Parents also deserve access to this debt relief,” the lawmakers wrote. “When a child becomes totally and permanently disabled, parents should not be forced to continue bearing the burden of student loan debt.”
When a student borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, they are discharged from having to repay most federal loans. Parents who borrow funds on their child’s behalf, however, remain liable for the debt even when their child sustains a total and permanent disability. The average Parent PLUS loan in 2016-2017 was $15,880, an immense cost for parents to bear while also caring for their disabled child.
Last December, Portman introduced Domenic’s Law (S. 2258), legislation to allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. In May 2017, Langevin introduced the bipartisan PLUS Loan Disability Forgiveness Act (H.R. 2270), a similar bill in the House.