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College loans can they be discharged if permanently injured?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I completed college two years ago. I recently was in a car accident, and I was severely injured. It does not look like I will be able to return to work for at least 12 months. I am concerned about how I can continue to repay my college loans if I cannot work. I heard something about potentially having your college loans discharged if you are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Can you tell me whether or not this is true?”


College loans can be discharged for permanent disabilities

Individuals who have certain federal college loans may qualify for a discharge of their loan if they become totally and permanently disabled and are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

According to the Federal Student Aid Office of the Department of Education, if you are totally and permanently disabled, you will not have to repay the following types of loans:


What do I need to do to apply for the college loan discharge?

Disabled individuals will have to complete certain requirements for the discharge. Specifically, they will need to complete a Total and Permanently Disabled application (TPD discharge application), and they will need to provide medical evidence proving their disability.

If you are a veteran and you have received veteran disability benefits, if you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) or you are currently receiving disability benefits from the SSA, the information provided to these departments should suffice.

Individuals who are permanently and totally disabled but who do not qualify for SSA disability benefits or who were not veterans may still receive a TPD discharge, but they will have to provide medical evidence from their physician. In some cases, their doctor may complete Section 4 of the TPD application. All information should then be sent to the Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability Servicer.

How do I contact the Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability Servicer?

Claimants may contact Nelnet either by phone (1-888-303-7818) or email [email protected]. Claimants may also visit and complete an application online.

After you have contacted Nelnet they will review your records, determine if your federal college loans qualify for discharge, and provide you with additional information for the application process.

They will also notify your lenders and request that collection of your college loans be suspended for 120 days, allowing you the chance to complete the TPD discharge request. It’s important to complete the TPD discharge application within the specified time period allowed or your lenders will have the legal right to resume their collection activities.

 Bottom Line for college loans:

If you become permanently and totally disabled, which means you cannot perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months due to a medically determinable impairment- you may qualify to have certain college loans discharged.

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