New loan cancellation program needs veterans to help spread the news to their peers and comrades

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Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wants veterans to help him donate money to friends and family.

Specifically, the department is pushing for veterans advocates and support groups to help publicize changes in the Public service loan forgiveness program announced last month that could wipe out the student loan debts of thousands of veterans and military personnel.

“As a country we owe a lot to these people for their sacrifices, so for me providing them with information on this is the first on my list,” Cardona said in an interview with the Military Times on Thursday. “For them and for their families, we need to help where we can. “

Cardona’s comments came after a panel discussion with veteran students and supporters at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire. The listening session was designed to discuss ways to better engage the military and veteran community in departmental services, including the loan cancellation program.

Officials said at least 17,000 members of the current service will benefit from changes to the program, which can write off tuition debt for people who have federal student loans and who have paid off their balances in the last one. decade.

For years, the program has been criticized for being too cumbersome and ruthless, dismissing many potential beneficiaries over complicated technical details. In the past four years, only about 16,000 people have qualified to cancel their loans.

The program reforms are designed to ease the bureaucratic burden and significantly increase the number of eligible people. The changes are not specific to the military, but the troops should be a significant part of the people who could benefit from them.

That’s why it’s important for veterans to know the benefit and determine if they may qualify, according to Cardona.

“We need to amplify our message,” he said. “We’ve heard stories from veterans about how the program isn’t working, so we’ve made these changes. It is urgent to protect those who have protected us.

Cardona told Thursday’s roundtable that veterans encouraged him not only to focus his outreach efforts on veterans groups, but also on employers and colleges, to ensure that individuals have multiple chances to see information about the program.

The department has already sent approximately 500,000 emails to federal loan recipients advising them of changes to the program and encouraging them to review the eligibility rules.

Recipients of a loan forgiveness must either work full-time in government employment – federal, state, local, and military positions are included – or in a non-profit, non-partisan organization, such as the Peace Corps.

Beginning in 2022, staff will match departmental data with other federal databases to ensure all federal workers, including troops, are automatically eligible for debt relief. About 22,000 people are expected to be covered by this process, which means they could see their debts suddenly wiped out early next year.

But others will need to apply or update their records to receive the financial benefits.

Additional information is available via the Ministry of Education website.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on policies relating to military personnel and veterans. His work has earned him numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.


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