Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

AG Reyes Calls for Forgiveness of Disabled Veterans School Loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL CALLS FOR AUTOMATIC DISCHARGE OF STUDENT LOANS FOR PERMANENTLY DISABLED VETERANS
Sean D. Reyes Leads a Nationwide Petition to the Education Secretary

SALT LAKE CITYAs the nation prepares to honor fallen troops on Memorial Day, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a bipartisan coalition of 51 Attorneys General (50 states and Guam) to urge the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.

This effort, led by Attorney General Reyes and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, calls on DOE to develop a process to automatically discharge the `student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for such relief. While the automatic discharge process is in development, the letter proposes DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans. 

“Forgiving their school loans is the least we can do to recognize their service and sacrifice,” Attorney General Reyes said. “These veterans have suffered permanent and total disability as a direct result of their service to our country. They and their families have sacrificed health, quality of life, and often their dreams for the future. Many have lost their ability to work and pay off any school debt.”

“There are many veterans in our state who signed up to serve our country and suffered life-altering injuries as a result,” Major General (ret.) and Chief Civil Deputy Brian L. Tarbet said. “Discharging their student loan debt is simply the right thing to do. I personally know of military families in this situation who could benefit from this kind of assistance but would never ask for it. Let’s make it easier on them to make a better life for themselves after the life-changing sacrifices they made.”

Last year DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans nationwide as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability, the attorneys general note in their letter to Secretary DeVos. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, however, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.

The letter urges an automatic loan discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons “would eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens and ensure that all eligible disabled veterans can receive a discharge.”

“Currently, far too few disabled vets who qualify for loan forgiveness have applied because they are unaware of or unable to make an application for the benefit,” Reyes said. “And far too many are in loan default, which negatively impacts their lives in very serious ways. Automatic forgiveness guarantees each of them the peace of mind they deserve and demonstrates our gratitude as a nation for what they have endured and continue to endure.”

# # #   

NOTES:

  1. Read a copy of the attorneys general letter to Secretary DeVos here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NAAG-Letter-to-Sec.-DeVos.pdf.
  2. The Utah Attorney General’s office leads Utah@Ease, a public-private partnership that offers legal assistance and representation to veterans and Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard service members. 
  3. The veteran’s groups supporting such proposals have included: Vietnam Veterans for America, Veterans Education Success, The Retired Enlisted Association, High Ground Advocacy, and Ivy League Veterans Council.
Utah Attorney General's Office

AG Reyes Statement on Preliminary Injunction of DOE Guideline Enforcement

SALT LAKE CITY August 22, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement regarding the Northern District of Texas’ preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Department of Education’s Guidance Letter:

“We support the District Court’s decision and understand it is a temporary measure while the case is heard fully. One of the primary roles of our office is to protect citizens, especially children. For years, local school boards, parents and students have worked together to provide safe accommodations for transgender students without interference from federal mandates that cause more confusion and less cooperation. We continue to support our state and local school boards and believe that they are in the best position to formulate public policy for students.

“We should note: this injunction does not prevent any school or district from following the “Dear Colleague” letter if they so choose. It merely limits the Department of Education from enforcing those mandates and defunding other desperately needed school programs until the judicial review process is complete.”

# # #

Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Joins Lawsuit Challenging DOE, DOJ “Dear Colleague” Letter on Bathroom & Locker Room Rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY  –   On May 13, 2016, the Obama Administration issued a “significant guidance” letter, also commonly known as a “Dear Colleague” letter.  After multiple efforts to obtain clarification from the Departments of Justice and Education failed to receive a response, a coalition of states sued. The lawsuit argues that the “Dear Colleague” letter has constitutional and statutory flaws, including improper rulemaking and failure to provide clear notice, among others, and if the Administration is using the Dear Colleague as new law, then it is legally deficient. 

On joining the lawsuit, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement:

Every child is an individual.  The recent “Dear Colleague” letter from the US Department of Justice and Department of Education attempts to apply a single solution to all individuals without regard for the input of parents, schools, and community leaders. The federal government’s ‘one size fits all’ mandate, disconnected from the needs of Utah schools, disrespects individuals and ignores the law.

As such, Utah has joined an action with states across the country to clarify issues raised by the DOJ and DOE and to prevent the federal government from infringing on the role of states, local school districts or Congress.  Multiple states in good faith sought clarification from the DOJ and DOE, but the silence from the federal government has resulted in an environment of confusion for educators and administrators. The lawsuit will identify whether states and local school boards remain free to find solutions on a case-by-case basis, suited to the needs of individual families.

This case is not really about bathrooms, but about executive branch overreach.  If the “Dear Colleague” letter was intended to mandate a new interpretation of the law, the lawsuit challenges that adaptation as legally improper.  When a presidential administration wishes to change the law, it must do so appropriately. This Administration could have worked with Congress. It could have challenged the constitutionality of a state or local board policy. Or it could have taken proper steps under the Administrative Procedures Act to provide notice and solicit comment from the public, including states, school boards and families.  Process has a purpose.

###

Site SettingsSettings