A close up of a speaker at a podium.

The Impact of Student Loan Debt Forgiveness for the Disability Community

My name is Nicole LeBlanc.

I live in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am on the autism spectrum and have anxiety, ADD, seizures, and a learning disability. I am writing to talk about the importance of helping people with disabilities get their student loans discharged, including ending the 3 year monitoring period. As the Biden Administration works to address student loan debt for people with disabilities, it is critically important that the application process be easier and we eliminate the 3 year monitoring period for work earnings. Student loans create a major financial hardship on people like me and many others with disabilities, especially those who live on their own in expensive areas. The amount of loans that I had discharged was around $1,177 which is just slightly less than what I pay in monthly rent for my studio apartment. No one with a disability should have to choose between paying for rent or basic needs and student loans. Many of us in the disability community struggle with finding jobs that pay livable wages where we make enough to live comfortably off public benefits. Benefit cliffs often force us to make big trade-offs between working and needing to stay eligible for public benefits. Some people with disabilities have their Social Security benefits cut to pay their student loans and that isn’t fair.

The application process for student loan discharge needs to be easier and more accessible to fill out, especially for someone with autism or other disabilities who does not get any HCBS services to help complete complex paperwork and navigate government bureaucracy. All government applications should allow us to submit info online without incurring the cost and hassle of printing and mailing stuff. I am glad the Biden Administration started to do that for some people with disabilities, but all people with eligible disabilities should be included.

By letting people with disabilities discharge loans and eliminating the 3-year income monitoring period, it will go a long way towards eliminating the stress and anxiety that comes with the financial challenges of living with a disability. There is no better time like the present to embrace a commitment to creating a stress and anxiety-free world for people with disabilities and their families. Making these changes is one of the best ways the Biden Administration can fulfill President Biden’s campaign promises to the disability community.