Portman Leads Second Joint Letter to Education Secretary Urging Relief for Families With Disabled Students

October 31, 2018 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the discharge of Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled. He was joined by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI). 

This was the second joint letter to Secretary DeVos on this matter, in follow-up to a letter sent in March 2018, to which the Department of Education still has not responded. 

“We reiterate the message from our previous letter and urge you to discharge all Parent PLUS loans borrowed on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are concerned that it has been six months since we sent our original inquiry, and we still have not received a reply.” 

When a student borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, they are discharged from having to repay most federal loans. Parents who borrow funds on their child’s behalf, however, remain liable for the debt even when their child sustains a total and permanent disability. The average Parent PLUS loan in 2016-2017 was $15,880, an immense cost for parents to bear while also caring for their disabled child. 

Last December, Senator Portman introduced Domenic’s Law (S. 2258), legislation to allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. In May 2017, Langevin introduced the bipartisan PLUS Loan Disability Forgiveness Act (H.R. 2270), a similar bill in the House.