Lawmakers Call on ED to Forgive Loans of Parents of Disabled Students

By Joelle Fredman, NASFAA Staff Reporter

A bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this week urging her to forgive all current and future Parent PLUS Loans taken out for students who have become totally and permanently disabled.  

While students who suffer from a total and permanent disability (TPD) may be eligible to have most of their federal loans discharged, parents who take out loans on behalf of those students are not granted the same forgiveness.

In the letter, Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Coons (D-DE), and Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) argue that parents also deserve to have their loans forgiven because “parents, like their children, agree to the terms and conditions of a PLUS loan with the expectation that such an investment will support the promise of a better future.”

“Federal law already recognizes that the difficulties that befall someone who sustains a TPD necessitate a pathway to student loan forgiveness,” they wrote. “Parents also deserve access to this debt relief.”  

The lawmakers argue that the forgiveness is vital as the average amount borrowed in the form of Parent PLUS loans last year reached $15,880 — around 2.4 times more than the average undergraduate loan.

“This money is crucial — it fills in the gaps between student grants and soaring college costs, and for many students, allows them to attend college in the first place,” they wrote.   

The Department of Education (ED) did forgive Parent PLUS loans taken out on behalf of students who obtained TPD status as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the lawmakers urge DeVos to extend this practice to all circumstances.

“If the Department is unable or unwilling to forgive Parent PLUS Loans borrowed on behalf of students who meet the TPD criteria, please explain why such a pathway will not or cannot be pursued, and what can be done by Congress or the Department to remove these obstacles,” they wrote.


Publication Date: 3/29/2018

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