10.31.18

Sens. Coons, Portman, Reps. Roskam, Langevin press Sec. DeVos to discharge all existing and future Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of permanently disabled students

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and U.S. Representatives Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and James Langevin (D-R.I.) yesterday sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reiterating their request from March 27, 2018 that the Department of Education discharge all existing and future Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled. 

In December 2018, President Trump signed the Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act into law. This legislation, introduced by Senators Coons, Portman, and King, eliminates a tax penalty on student loans that are forgiven due to death or permanent disability. However, parents who borrow funds on their child’s behalf are currently obligated to repay loans regardless of their children’s total and permanent disability status. As a result, the Members are urging Secretary DeVos to address this inequity and give parents access to this debt relief.

The letter is copied below and is available here

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education 

U.S. Department of Education 

400 Maryland A venue SW 

Washington, D.C. 20202  

Dear Secretary DeVos,  

We write to inquire about the letter sent to you on March 27, 2018 regarding forgiveness of Parent PLUS loans. Given that we have not received a response to our original correspondence, we felt it necessary to reiterate our request that you discharge all existing and future Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled, and we ask for a prompt response. 

As you know, students who experience a total and permanent disability (TPD) are discharged from repayment for most federal student loans. However, the same cannot be said for parents who borrow funds on their child's behalf, who are currently obligated to repay loans regardless of their child's TPD status. Yet, parent borrowers are eligible for forgiveness upon the death of their child. Addressing this inequity is vital.

This issue is not only a matter of sound policy, but also of significance to real people. We have constituents-hardworking Americans-who bear the burden of student loan debt in the face of their child's disability. Congress previously recognized the financial toll on families in situations like this when the Department of Education granted loan forgiveness to families with students who became totally and permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 

We reiterate the message from our previous letter and urge you to discharge all Parent PLUS loans borrowed on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled. Should the Department be unable or unwilling to forgive Parent PLUS loans in the circumstance described above, please explain why this is not possible and what Congress and the Department can do to achieve this forgiveness.

We are concerned that it has been six months since we sent our original inquiry, and we still have not received a reply. A copy of our original inquiry is enclosed. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. We look forward to a prompt reply.

Press Contact

Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or Sean_Coit@coons.senate.gov