Morrisey signs onto debt letter

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s participation in a broad, multistate letter helped expedite student loan forgiveness for veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.

President Trump announced a directive in late August requiring the U.S. Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs to swiftly discharge debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans.

That announcement followed a letter by 51 attorneys general urging the Education Department to take such action.

“I applaud President Trump’s move to forgive the student loan debt of these brave veterans,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Their sacrifice protected our nation. Hopefully, our coalition’s effort to bring forth this directive will provide relief and peace of mind.”

The coalition’s letter called upon the Education Department to develop a process to automatically discharge the student loans of veterans eligible for such relief, as determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

While the automatic discharge process was in development, the letter proposed, the Education Department should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans.

Last year, the Education Department identified more than 42,000 veterans as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability. Fewer than 9,000 had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018 and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.

The attorneys general noted the federal government had taken some steps to make it easier for eligible veterans to secure student loan relief, however, an automatic discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons would eliminate unnecessary paperwork and ensure that all eligible veterans receive a discharge.