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Connolly, Turner Introduce Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act

Legislation would allow Veterans’ Caregivers to Qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Today, Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Congressman Michael R. Turner (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, introduced the Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act. This bipartisan legislation would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make VA-designated primary family caregivers eligible for the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program.


“Today, there are approximately, 5.5 million Hidden Heroes who currently serve as caregivers for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. This is noble service, and they should be treated like other public servants who qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program,”  Connolly said. 


"Individuals who selflessly serve as caregivers for our nation's veterans are deserving of student loan forgiveness just as other public servants are,”  said Turner. “By making these heroes eligible for the public service loan forgiveness program, our bipartisan legislation would ease their burden of financial debt to thank them for their service. The over 5 million caregivers serving our veteran community should not be left behind."


“Crippling student loan debt has a significant impact on our nation’s military and veteran caregivers, who often cut back or stop working completely to provide care for their wounded warriors,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “By including military caregivers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, our nation is finally able to thank these individuals for their service and significantly reduce the financial burden on their families. The Foundation applauds Representatives Connolly and Turner for pioneering this legislation and urge all Members of Congress to support its swift passage.”


Primary family caregivers of eligible veterans are designated by and enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). Currently the PCAFC serves approximately 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 cost-effective public service costing the VA on average $19,000 per year, per veteran, while a VA nursing home costs upwards of $400,000 per year. These primary caregivers do not qualify for any sort of the student loan forgiveness program, despite their obvious public service to their country. 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 in recognition of their service.   


The  Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives the remaining balance on your federal Direct Loans after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working for a qualifying public service employer. Employment with the following types of organizations qualifies for PSLF:

  • Government organizations at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal)
  • Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Other types of not-for-profit organizations that are not tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, if they provide certain types of qualifying public services
  • Serving as a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteer also counts as qualifying employment for the PSLF Program.

According to a Rand study,

  • There are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States. Of these, 1.1 million (19.6 percent) are caring for post-9/11 veterans.

  • Seventeen percent of civilian caregivers reported spending more than 40 hours per week providing care (8 percent reported spending more than 80 hours per week); 12 percent of post-9/11 military caregivers and 10 percent of pre-9/11 military caregivers spent more than 40 hours per week.

  • Post-9/11 caregiver duties can be estimated as worth close to $3 billion (in 2011 dollars); the costs of lost productivity among post-9/11 caregivers are $5.9 billion (in 2011 dollars).

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, Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Services, Military Child Education Coalition, Military Family Advisory Network, Modern Military Association of America, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), National Coalition for Caregiving, Paralyzed Veterans of America, PenFed Foundation, PsychArmor, RallyPoint, Rosalynn Carter Institute, Student Veterans of America, Travis Manion Foundation, and Wounded Warrior Project.


Text of the legislation is available here.

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