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March 9, 2020

Legislation Would Provide Student Loan Debt Forgiveness For Eligible Disabled Veterans

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the For Country Caucus formally endorsed the bipartisan Federally Requiring Earned Education-Debt Discharges for Veterans Act (FREED Vets Act). Introduced by Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) along with Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Andy Levin (MI-09), the legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to automatically discharge federal student loan debt for eligible permanently disabled veterans.

"Veterans who have become disabled during their service to our nation shouldn't need to battle with bureaucracy to get the educational benefits that they earned," said For Country Caucus Co-Chair Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-20). "The bipartisan FREED Vets Act provides a clear path for eligible disabled veterans to receive student loan relief. I urge the House to take up this important legislation to provide this assistance for these servicemembers who have sacrificed so much for our country.

"As a veteran, I am thankful to co-sponsor H.R. 3598, the FREED Vets Act, which would automatically forgive student loans and eliminate the paperwork barrier that prevents eligible permanently disabled veterans from attaining student loan debt relief," said For Country Caucus Co-Chair Representative Don Bacon (NE-2). "These veterans defended our nation with courage and integrity, and it is only right that we ease the burden for America's heroes."

"The FREED Vets Act will make student debt forgiveness for eligible disabled veterans automatic, both now and in the future. Not a single eligible disabled veteran in America should be forced to live under the weight of student loan debt, and they shouldn't have to file paperwork or cut through red tape to get the relief they earned through their sacrifices for this country," said Rep. Lamb.

In October 2018, the U.S Department of Education established a program with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify veterans who are disabled or unable to work. Under the current program, the Department of Education then notifies veterans who are eligible for debt forgiveness of the opportunity to apply. The FREED Vets Act would automatically forgive these loans and eliminate the paperwork barrier that prevents eligible veterans from attaining student loan debt relief. More than 42,000 eligible veterans have been identified by the Department of Education, yet only 20% of those eligible have applied for the program.

A companion Senate version of this legislation was also introduced by Senators Jack Reed (RI) and Johnny Isakson (GA). In August of 2019 the Administration announced an Executive Order discharging the student debt of totally and permanently disabled veterans. The For Country Caucus is pushing for the bill's passage to ensure this change is codified in federal law.

The automatic discharge of student loan debt for eligible disabled veterans has been supported by Student Veterans of America, The Retired Enlisted Association, Veterans Education Success, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association, Higher Ground Veterans Advocacy, as well as 51 state attorneys general, and multiple tax law experts.

The For Country Caucus is a bipartisan Congressional Caucus of 21 veterans Members of Congress dedicated to working together to move America forward by finding areas of consensus and compromise. The caucus is chaired by Representatives Don Bacon (NE-2) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20). Vice Chairs are Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6) and Michael Waltz (FL-6).

Click here to learn more about the FREED Vets Act, and click here to learn more about the For Country Caucus.