September 1, 2021

Education Department Will Cancel Student Debt for More Than 320,000 Borrowers With Severe Disabilities


On August 19, the U.S. Department of Education made an announcement that they will cancel student debt for more than 320,000 borrowers with severe disabilities. This effort will eliminate at least $5.8 billion in outstanding student loans, benefiting borrowers who cannot work because of total or permanent disability (TPD).

Student loan disability benefits already exist in the TPD Discharge program, granting student debt relief and forgiveness upon application. However, this change would automatically reflect debt discharges on qualified borrowers’ accounts without having to apply. Here’s a closer look at the official statement’s provisions.

Who Will Receive Student Debt Cancellation?

According to the Social Security Administration database, borrowers with TPD qualify for student loan forgiveness under this change. The Department of Education will notify borrowers of their student debt cancellation approval.

Borrowers do not have to submit any paperwork or apply for cancellation since the federal government already knows which borrowers qualify. Previously, borrowers needed to submit income reports and undergo income monitoring for student loan forgiveness eligibility.

In 2016, nearly all borrowers with TPD had their loans restored because they did not submit proper documentation. The change eliminates these hurdles for disabled borrowers. The Department of Education will use Social Security Administration records to identify permanently disabled borrowers and automatically reflect the cancellation.

When Will the Cancellation Take Effect?

The department will begin canceling student loans for qualified borrowers in September 2021. Social Security Administration data identifies over 323,000 Americans with TPD. These borrowers can expect automatic debt relief starting in September, and rest assured that they will be debt-free by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the department plans to lift the three-year monitoring period in October. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated that the department wants to make this change a smooth process for borrowers, eliminating any need for complex paperwork or application procedures that deter some borrowers from utilizing this chance.

Other Student Loan Forgiveness Opportunities

Currently, the Biden administration is assessing its options for mass student debt cancellation. The current administration has approved approximately $8.7 billion in student debt discharge for around 455,000 borrowers. Findings regarding the president’s legal authority to forgive student loans through executive action remain confidential.


The Department of Education will cancel student debt for more than 320,000 borrowers with severe disabilities. Using the existing Social Security Administration data to determine qualified borrowers with TPD, the department intends to automatically wipe out $5.8 billion in student debt for qualified borrowers.

This change will be a smooth process for borrowers. Starting September 2021, borrowers with TPD can expect student debt discharge under this change. The department aims to wipe out all student loans for borrowers with disabilities by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is looking into its options to cancel student debt for other specific borrower groups. Be sure to keep up with the latest student loan debt news to find out if you qualify for this unprecedented effort of forgiving multiple federal student loans.

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