New legislation aims to forgive student debt for eligible caregivers to veterans

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Caption
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Credit: Charles Krupa

Credit: Charles Krupa

Recently introduced Congressional legislation would forgive student loan debt for eligible caregivers to veterans.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps, Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Gerald Connolly, D-Va., would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make Veterans Affairs-designated primary family caregivers eligible for the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program.

The bill is titled the “Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act.”

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“By easing their financial burden, my bipartisan legislation would finally thank hidden heroes for their dedicated service to our veteran community,” Turner said in a statement from his office.

“This is noble service, and they should be treated like other public servants who qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program,” Connolly said in the same statement.

According to a study by Rand Corp., there are an estimated 5.5 million caregivers to our nation’s veterans, designated by and enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC).

The program serves some 20,000 post-9/11 veterans and their caregivers and an additional 83,000 veterans injured in the line of duty pre-1975 and their caregivers.

Caregivers provide a what the release calls a public service, which costs the VA on average $19,000 per year, per veteran, while a VA nursing home costs upwards of $400,000 per year.

“Despite their public service, these caregivers do not qualify for any kind of student loan forgiveness program,” the release said. “The Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act would allow PCAFC-certified primary caregivers to participate in the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.”

The Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act is endorsed by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the American Red Cross, Blue Star Families, Code of Support Foundation, Disabled American Veterans and other organizations, the release said.