Nearly 400,000 Americans are about to get some debt relief on student loans they can’t afford to pay off because they’ve become permanently disabled.
The Obama administration plans to forgive $7.7 billion in federal student loans for more than 100,000 people who will be getting immediate relief starting next week.
If a person is disabled and doctors don’t see any hope of reversing the condition, they have a right under law to be freed from their student loan debt. But not everyone knows this, and the government had not previously notified them.
A review of the student loan program found 387,000 people meet the requirements for debt forgiveness under the law — but were not aware they qualified.
On top of that, 179,000 of those were already in default on their loans, and in danger of losing tax refunds or Social Security payments even though they were unable to work.
Customized letters will go out to that group of people already in default starting Monday, with instructions on how they can apply for loan forgiveness right away.
More letters will go out over the next 16 weeks notifying others of their rights and how to apply.
“Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief,” Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a statement. “Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief.”
The announcement is part of President Obama’s “Student Aid Bill of Rights,” which ordered the federal government in March to overhaul rules on how Americans repay student loans.