Press Release (ePRNews.com) - EMERYVILLE, Calif. - Nov 19, 2018 - American Financial Benefits Center (AFBC) is closely monitoring developments in a conflict between the Department of Education (DOE) and severely disabled veterans. DOE continues to demand repayment of student loans from more than 40,000 severely disabled veterans who owe more than $1 billion, even though they have been deemed unable to work and they qualify for student loan forgiveness. In June, an advocacy group, Veterans Education Success, filed a Freedom of Information Act request that DOE recently complied with. The DOE report revealed that more than 25,000 of these veterans are in default and only 8,500 have even applied for forgiveness. AFBC, a document preparation company, has helped thousands of clients navigate the complexities of the student loan repayment system, assisting them in securing and maintaining enrollment in federal programs, such as income-driven repayment programs (IDRs).
“Of course, disabled veterans have sacrificed their health and well-being, and no one wants to see them suffer further,” said Sara Molina, manager at AFBC. “Working with loan servicers can be complicated for some. We continue to ease the suffering of our clients by making sure they keep up with their paperwork, allowing them to recertify and ensuring that they maximize the benefits they have available to them.”
For-profit colleges have come under scrutiny for targeting veterans because of a loophole that allows them to count GI Bill money as private dollars, instead of federal aid. A Senate report discovered that two-thirds of veterans left these institutions without a degree. Further, between 39 and 57 percent of programs that veterans took failed to meet “gainful employment” rules governing a college’s eligibility to receive federal funds.
Of course, disabled veterans have sacrificed their health and well-being, and no one wants to see them suffer further.
DOE has a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program that many veterans should qualify for and has sent letters to some disabled veterans informing them of their eligibility. Advocacy groups counter that the programs should be automatic. Veterans may not be able to respond, according to these groups, because they are paralyzed or have brain injuries. Other veterans, targeted incessantly by scammers, are rightly wary of letters that claim their loans will be forgiven. DOE counters that it doesn’t want to automatically cancel debt because it is taxable, though recent changes in federal law provide that forgiven student loan debt for individuals with total and permanent disability, including veterans, does not increase the tax burden for these individuals. Most states also waive tax obligations on forgiven student loan debt for the disabled, another DOE concern.
The letter describing the forgiveness program is sent by Nelnet and says that the recipient “may” be eligible for TPD discharge and lists a number of steps to take, including freeze-out dates and stipulations that garnishments, if already begun, will continue until the case is approved. Besides being easily disregarded, a former DOE department official suggests current policies are “disturbing” and that for-profit institutions are being afforded more protections than veterans.
“We try and stay informed about all developments in our industry and, hopefully, institutions will quickly determine the best way to forgive the student loans of severely disabled veterans,” said Molina. “We also remain focused on the task at hand, and that is to be the trusted advocate for our clients.”
About American Financial Benefits Center
American Financial Benefits Center is a document preparation company that helps clients apply for federal student loan repayment plans that fit their personal financial and student loan situation. Through its strict customer service guidelines, the company strives for the highest levels of honesty and integrity.
Each AFBC telephone representative has received the Certified Student Loan Professional certification through the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA).
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