BENSON, N.C. – A disability advocate in North Carolina is excited about the federal government’s plan to forgive over $5.8 billion in student loans to those living with a total or permanent disability.
What You Need To Know
Over 323,000 borrowers who have a total and permanent disability (TPD) will receive more than $5.8 billion in automatic student loan discharges
Those who qualify will be identified through Social Security and Veterans Affairs databases
Chris Baucom with Alliance of Disability Advocates says many of his clients are “swamped in debt”
Chris Baucom works as a community inclusion specialist for the Alliance of Disability Advocates based in Raleigh.
Every week, Baucom, who lives in Benson, visits about 15 people living with a disability to offer support services.
“Whether it’s helping them clean or manage their house to getting out in the community and getting new jobs,” Baucom said. “It’s been great … I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
Baucom says many of his clients face financial challenges, too.
“They’re swamped in debt,” Baucom said. “They have medical bills, they see doctors every month, and they get all kinds of bills coming in.”
Paying off student loans can be nearly impossible for some of his clients. That’s why he’s pleased to hear about the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to relieve debt for more than 323,000 borrowers who are unable to work due to their disability.
“When you’re living on a fixed income anywhere from $800 to $1,500 [a month] if you’re lucky … $200 go a long way,” Baucom said.
Baucom relates to his clients on a personal level. He has about $60,000 in student loans and has been using a wheelchair after a tragic ATV accident in 2006.
Baucom went back to school after working in construction for 20 years to get a communications degree. He was hoping to become a 911 dispatcher, but he says he couldn’t type fast enough.
“It’s a challenge with student loans and medical bills,” Baucom said.
Baucom says because he works full-time, he doesn’t qualify for the disability loan relief. However, since he works for a nonprofit, he’ll soon qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
“To know that after three years, I don’t have to pay that money anymore,” Baucom said. “That would be amazing.”
Lifting any type of financial burden is a breath of fresh air, especially for Baucom and the people he works with.
“Once that student loan debt is gone,” Baucom said. “I’ll put that money towards typing classes and become a 911 dispatcher.”
To learn more about the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge program, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website.