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HOUSE PASSES BIPARTISAN FREED VETS ACT TO PROVIDE STUDENT LOAN DEBT FORGIVENESS FOR DISABLED VETERANS

March 10, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the House passed H.R. 3598, the bipartisan Federally Requiring Earned Education-Debt Discharges for Veterans Act (FREED Vets Act).  Introduced by Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) and 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.

“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 Lamb.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve all the help we can provide them.  I believe that the least we can do is relieve them of their student loan debt,” said Fitzpatrick.  “The FREED Vets Act will assist disabled veterans by requiring the Department of Education to erase their student loans, freeing them from the burden of crippling debt.  It was great to see this bipartisan bill pass the House, and I look forward to the Senate doing the same.”

“Veterans who have become disabled during their service to our nation should have their student loans automatically forgiven and without cumbersome red tape,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  “I urge our colleagues to join us in pressing for swift passage of this bill to guarantee assistance for the courageous servicemembers who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”

“Our nation’s disabled veterans have made incredible sacrifices for America, the very least they are owed is our assistance when they come home and transition back to civilian life,” said Courtney.  “The FREED Vets Act is a commonsense, bipartisan solution that will streamline student loan forgiveness for our veterans who were disabled in their military service.  Automatically discharging student loan debt for veterans with permanent disabilities is something we can all find common ground on.  I was proud to join my colleagues Representatives Lamb and Fitzpatrick in getting this important, bipartisan bill across the finish line here in the House.”

“I am grateful we could come together today to provide long overdue assistance to our nation’s heroes,” said Reschenthaler.  “Disabled veterans face many obstacles when returning home, but this bill will remove the barriers that prevent them from eliminating one of those burdens.  I hope the Senate will act quickly to send this bill to President Trump’s desk so we can provide the certainty of law for our nation’s disabled veterans.”

“There’s no question that eligible veterans with disabilities should be freed automatically from the burden of student loan debt,” said Levin.  That is why I was proud to join my colleagues to introduce the FREED Vets Act last year, and to see it pass today.  Now, we need the Senate to take up quickly and pass the bill to give these veterans the relief they deserve.”

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 and who have federal student loan debt.  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 is designed to automatically forgive these loans and eliminate the paperwork barrier that has prevented eligible veterans from attaining student loan debt relief.  More than 42,000 eligible veterans have been identified by the Department of Education, yet less than half of those eligible have applied for the program.

Prior to the introduction of H.R. 3598, Congressman Lamb led several bipartisan letters to the U.S. Department of Education.  In August of 2019, the Administration announced an Executive Order discharging the student debt of eligible disabled veterans.  The FREED Vets Act codifies this process and preserves the automatic discharge as a right under law.

The automatic discharge of student loan debt for eligible disabled veterans is supported by the For Country Caucus, Student Veterans of America, The Retired Enlisted Association, Veterans Education Success, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Union Veterans Council, Wounded Warrior Project, American Council on Education, as well as 51 state attorneys general and multiple tax law experts.

Click here to learn more about the FREED Vets Act, and click here to view Lamb’s floor speech about this legislation on March 10, 2020.

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