By Financial Regulation News Reports
Legislation that would provide student loan debt relief for parents whose children become permanently disabled was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
Most federal student loans are discharged if the student borrower dies or sustains a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD), but loans taken out by parents are only discharged if the student dies. This bill would extend disability forgiveness to parent plus loans.
The Plus Loan Disability Forgiveness Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).
“Student loan debt is crushing American families, and parents should not be further burdened if their child becomes disabled,” Langevin said. “Disability loan discharge applies to almost all other student loans, and it is simply wrong that a parent struggling with a child’s sudden disability is not also afforded this forgiveness. My bill would close this loophole and allow families to focus on healing, not servicing debt,” said Langevin, cofounder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus.
Thompson, a former recreational therapist, said he is familiar with the unique set of challenges parents face helping their children recover from a sudden disability.
“I am proud to work with Representative Langevin to streamline the student loan disability forgiveness process and help provide certainty to families coping with life-changing events,” he said.
The act would expand on a provision passed by Congress in the Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2006, which authorized the TPD discharge of parent plus loans for students who became disabled as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Adapting to the permanent disability of a child takes a nearly unimaginable toll on any family. The federal government offers to forgive student loan debt in these circumstances – and it’s the right thing to do,” Roskam said. “Unfortunately, the government extends this forgiveness to some loans and not others.”
More than 44 million student loan borrowers owe $1.4 trillion in student loan debt in the United States, and the average 2016 college graduate owes over $37,000 in student loan debt.
“Student debt is a tremendous burden for millions of American families, and our government already rightly forgives debts taken on by students who become disabled,” Krishnamoorthi said. “Parents taking out loans to pay for their child’s education should also be eligible to have those loans discharged if their child suddenly becomes disabled. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to close this loophole.”