WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Angus King (I-Maine), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced Domenic and Ed’s Law. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. U.S. Representative Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Section 437(d) of the Higher Education Act authorizes the discharge of student loans taken out in a parent’s name if the child dies. However, it does not authorize parental loan forgiveness if the child is permanently and totally disabled. This bill would make a minor change to Section 437(d) to make clear that parents who have taken out student loans for their child can also get those loans forgiven if their child becomes totally and permanently disabled.
The bill is named after constituents of Portman and Langevin who inspired this legislative fix. Domenic Carducci, a graduate from The Ohio State University, became totally and permanently disabled not long after graduation. Domenic was able to have his student loans forgiven but his mother, Carolyn, was forced to continue to pay for the student loans that she took out in her name for Domenic’s education. She and her husband still owe tens of thousands of dollars and will be paying these loans well into their 90s. Ed Desorcy, a constituent in Langevin’s district, suffers from Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and lost his vision while attending college. While Desorcy’s loans were discharged following his disability, the loans taken out by his parents on his behalf were not.
“For several years now I have been leading a bipartisan group of members in Congress to address a range of issues impacting individuals with total and permanent disabilities carrying federal student loans,” said Senator Coons. “This week, I joined education and disability rights advocates in urging the Biden Administration to move toward automating the total and permanent disability student loan discharge process as soon as an eligible individual is identified. Domenic and Ed’s Law is another commonsense solution that would provide relief to parents holding student loans on behalf their child if their child becomes totally and permanently disabled. I’m proud to stand with Senator Portman in reintroducing this bill.”
“Families like the Carducci family of Steubenville, Ohio, whose son Domenic has become permanently and totally disabled are going through unimaginable grief,” said Senator Portman. “Because of this tragic disability, they cannot afford a massive student loan bill. The last thing that families in these situations need is that kind of financial burden. I remain committed to addressing this legislative issue fully, and urge my colleagues to support providing relief to families enduring such difficult circumstances.”
“When a parent takes out student loans for their children, they are making an investment in their child’s future by helping them attain higher education. But sometimes, tragedy strikes and alters those plans so dramatically that it is impossible for the student or the parents to ever repay these loans,” said Senator King. “Amidst this heartbreak, families should be able to focus on caring for their now-disabled child – not worrying about student loan payments for an investment that can never be recouped. This legislation will provide essential relief to help these families adjust to their new circumstances. It’s good policy – and it’s simply the right thing to do.”
“Families of children who become totally and permanently disabled who have taken out student loans in their own names for those children should be eligible for loan forgiveness, and I’m proud to sign onto this common sense bill that will help ease their financial burden,” said Senator Braun.
“After a child becomes permanently disabled, it is unacceptable that parents are then forced to shoulder the burden of that child’s student loans,” said Senator Hassan. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill would eliminate student loans for parents whose child has developed a severe disability, and I will keep working to build support for this critically-needed bill.”
“Young people who become permanently disabled have their student loans forgiven, but their families’ loans should be forgiven, too. It’s time for Congress to address this glaring loophole and make sure that parents aren’t struggling to pay off student debt as they help their kids with a significant life change,” said Congressman Langevin. “I’m blessed to know Ed Desorcy and his family well, and I’m proud to be leading the charge on this legislation with my Senate colleagues to grant his family, and so many others like them, much deserved financial relief.”
This legislation was originally part of the Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act, which would both amend the Higher Education Act to provide student loan forgiveness to parents who take out loans for their children and also change the Internal Revenue Code to exempt individuals from the tax liability created by the forgiveness of their student loans in cases of death and disability.
The full text of the legislation is available here.