Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), and Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA) introduced the Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act. Their 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.
"Over 5 million individuals selflessly serve as caregivers to our nation's veterans, yet, unlike other public servants, these heroes are currently not eligible for student loan forgiveness. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act would allow these heroes to qualify for relief through the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program,” said Turner. “By easing their financial burden, my bipartisan legislation would finally thank Hidden Heroes for their dedicated service to our veteran community."
“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.
“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.”
According to a study by Rand Corporation, there are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in the U.S. 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). 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, 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 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, 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.