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Attorneys general from 47 states sent a letter Friday to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her to forgive more than $1 billion in student loans for disabled veterans.
The letter stated that the Department of Education should establish a program to automatically discharge the loans. Only 9,000 of the 42,000 veterans eligible for loan forgiveness have applied for a discharge. As of April, more than 25,000 veterans were in default.
“As a nation, we have a moral obligation to assist those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” the letter said.
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In this April 10 photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
Attorneys general from three territories and the District of Columbia also signed the letter, while those from Texas, Arizona and Alabama did not.
Permanently disabled veterans can have their loans forgiven under federal law, but the process if filled with bureaucratic red tape.
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“The current approach is inadequate,” the letter said. “The cost of education for our disabled veterans today is soaring, and it would be of great benefit to those who are burdened by these crushing debts to obtain relief without arduous compliance requirements.”
In a statement, the Education Department said veterans should be fully informed before making decisions about their student loans, Reuters reported. It cited whether it would increase their tax bills or make it harder to obtain education loans in the future as examples.
“While ‘automatic discharge’ may seem like a simple solution, there are long-term impacts we want all veterans to have the chance to consider before their loans are discharged,” the department said.
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The letter said student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans has the support of lawmakers from both parties and from veterans groups.
“We now urge the department to take action to better protect those who once protected the nation,” the letter said. “Our veterans deserve nothing less.”
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