If you are a disabled veteran, have served in the military for at least two years of continuous active duty service and are not eligible for educational benefits from your branch of service, then it's possible that you may qualify for student loan forgiveness.
Yeah, we’re talking total student loan forgiveness.
You'll need to meet certain criteria, which we’ll go over below. Namely, you need to be considered totally and permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this option, including eligibility requirements, types of loans that can be forgiven and more. Read on to find out if this is a fit for you.
What to Know About Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans in 2021
Basically, all you need to know is that, back in March, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new plan that would expand and simplify the loan forgiveness process for disabled individuals. This includes non-veteran and non-service members who are totally or permanently disabled as well.
This is on top of the August 2019 Trump Administration move that forgave the federal student debt specifically for veterans with a total or permanent disability.
Now, how does that affect disabled veterans? It means that you have options! The Trump Administration law made it much easier for disabled veterans to receive total loan forgiveness. It also prevented them from having to pay any federal income tax on the loans. However, this new March 2021 law aims to speed up the process and make it easier for individuals to apply.
So, while nothing has changed drastically, the process appears to be getting easier to complete.
How to Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans
According to the Federal Student Aid Office, you can qualify for total loan forgiveness as long as you are able to verify your disability status. To do that, you need to send the office a qualifying TPD discharge. What’s that?
TPD refers to “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.”
Officially, it declares that “veterans will now have their student loan debt discharged unless they decide to opt-out of the process. The Department anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis.”
Where do you get a TPD? You can get it from one of the following entities:
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- The Social Security Administration (SSA)
- A licensed physician
It’s important to note, however, that each entity might require different documentation from you in order to issue that TPD discharge.
When going to Veterans Affairs, for example, you’ll need to show that you have received a VA disability determination because you either have a service-related disability that is 100% disabling or are totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating.
If you opt to go through the Social Security Administration, you’ll need to provide a copy of your SSA notice of award or Benefits Planning Query. Basically, they want to see that your next scheduled disability review is five to seven years out from the date of your last one.
Feeling like you’d rather go to your doctor to get the form? Your physician needs to verify that you are totally unable to engage in any substantial activity. And, that the reason why is due to a physical or mental impairment that has lasted for a continuous period of at least 60 months. Or, that the impairment can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 60 months.
How Much Student Loan Debt is Forgiven as a Veteran?
That depends on when you completed your military service.
If your service ended before August 14, 2008, you could qualify for up to 50% loan forgiveness.
If your service began on that date or later, you could qualify for up to 100% loan forgiveness.
What to Do If You’re Not a Disabled Veteran
If you’re a verteran but not disabled, there are still ways that you can have your student loan debt forgiven! Aren’t a disabled veteran? We suggest looking at the option of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program or National Defense Student Loan Discharge. The latter is one of the easier programs to qualify for.
To qualify, you’ll need to have taken out a National Defense Student Loan or a Federal Perkins Loan. And, you must also have completed at least one year of service in one of the US’s military branches. The only catch is that you have to have spent that year deployed to a “hostile fire or imminent danger pay area.”
How to Apply for Student Loan Debt Forgiveness as a Veteran
For easy access, here is a link to Navient’s student loan forgiveness options for veterans and a link here for Nelnet’s student loan forgiveness options for veterans. If your loan is with another company that is not Navient or Nelnet, we suggest that you contact them directly. Chances are, they have a specific military benefits department where you can speak to someone who will understand your specific situation.
You can also search for “student loan forgiveness options for veterans” online. Be sure to include your loan provider’s name. That will help you find more accurate information, too.
What to Do After Debt?
If you’re able to get your student debt erased as a veteran then we’re sure your next question will be: What do I do with all of this extra cash?
Aside from learning how to budget wisely and invest in yourself, learning how to invest in stocks as a way to grow long-term wealth is a great idea.
Download the Wealth Stack app for free to learn how to invest. There, you can start learning through our helpful (and free) video courses. We’ve even got a special section on Veteran Finances!