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June 28, 2019
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) and Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Andy Levin (MI-09) introduced the bipartisan Federally Requiring Earned Education-Debt Discharges for Veterans Act (FREED Vets Act) to require the U.S. Department of Education to automatically discharge federal student loan debt for eligible permanently disabled veterans.  A companion Senate version of this legislation is also being introduced by Senators Jack Reed (RI) and Johnny Isakson (GA).

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.

"Congress has an obligation to ease the challenges our veterans face when they come home and return to civilian life,” said Lamb.  “This important bipartisan legislation provides a clear pathway for eligible disabled veterans to receive a benefit they have earned through their service and sacrifice."

"Our nation's veterans have sacrificed immensely for our freedom and way of life," said Fitzpatrick.  "It is unacceptable that many disabled veterans continue to be saddled with high levels of student debt.  I am proud to join Representative Lamb in introducing the FREED Act to support student loan forgiveness and financial security for American heroes."

“Veterans who have become disabled during their service to our nation should have their student loans forgiven without delay and without cumbersome red tape,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  “Our bill will require the Department of Education to automatically discharge student loans for eligible individuals and help to ensure that no veteran falls through the cracks due to a clerical error.  I’m pleased with the support we’ve received from numerous veterans' organizations, and I urge my colleagues to support swift passage of this bill to provide this overdue assistance for the courageous servicemembers who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”

"This is a commonsense way to make it easier for totally and permanently disabled veterans to receive the student loan relief they deserve, and I hope that we’re able to act quickly on it,” said Isakson, a member of the committee that oversees federal education matters and chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

"As a veteran, I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce legislation that streamlines student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans,” said Reschenthaler.  “These men and women served on the front lines defending our nation, and this bill will cut the red tape that stops them from receiving their benefits.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in support of our nation’s heroes."

"Veterans who have a disability due to military service should face as few administrative barriers as possible in receiving their benefits—especially as they navigate the cumbersome student loan process,” said Levin.  “Automatically discharging student loans for veterans with a permanent disability is something we can all agree on.  The FREED Act offers a few simple fixes that make our government work more efficiently in service to veterans. I’m proud to support this bill as an original cosponsor and deliver practical, meaningful solutions for veterans with disabilities."

"Our nation’s disabled veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our nation, and it is a disservice to them and their families to wrap up the discharge of their federal student loan debt in bureaucratic red tape,” said Courtney. “I commend my colleagues Congressmen Lamb and Fitzpatrick for their work on this effort to automatically discharge the student loan debt of our disabled vets.  The FREED Vets Act is a commonsense, bipartisan solution to an inter-agency issue that deserves swift attention from this Congress.  I look forward to highlighting this issue for my colleagues on the Education & Labor Committee."

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, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, as well as 51 state attorneys general, and multiple tax law experts.