Student loan representatives are calling for the debts of over 53,000 disabled borrowers to be automatically discharged. On Tuesday, officials from seven states and Washington, D.C., sent a letter urging the change to Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and Social Security Commissioner, Andrew Saul, to forgive the loans of permanently disabled students in their regions, in line with prior ruling for veterans.

According to the letter, the borrowers in question have received notice that they might be eligible for debt forgiveness under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. However, only around 10% of them have actually had their loans forgiven.

The representatives say that these 53,000 borrowers have permanent physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from holding jobs or otherwise engaging in “substantial activities,” NBC News reports.

“It is therefore critical that as Secretary you use your regulatory authority and access to borrower information to create the least onerous path to relief for this population, both as they apply for relief and to satisfy the monitoring requirements,” the letter states.

The states represented by the letter are Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New York, Virginia, and Washington, in addition to Washington, D.C.

Another letter, signed by over 30 advocacy groups, accused the Department of Education (DOE) of making the process for debt forgiveness too difficult, leaving most eligible disabled borrowers to not bother. An investigation by NPR found that only 28% of these eligible individuals completed or began the process between early 2016 and late 2019.

President Trump previously eliminated the student loan debt of 25,000 eligible veterans with disabilities. While a spokesperson for the DOE, Angela Morabito, explained that other disabled borrowers can apply for forgiveness, it is not automatic, as Trump’s order was.

betsy devos
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts