WASHINGTON D.C., D.C., April 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is promising to forgive the student loans of 387,000 permanently disabled Americans who are unable to work.
Starting next week, the Department of Education said it will send letters to people who have been identified as eligible for a "Total and Permanent Disability" loan discharge.
The move could wipe out student debts totalling an estimated $7.7 billion. It's part of President Barack Obama's Student Aid Bill of Rights to actively help Americans deal with the growing burden of student loan debt.
Until now, the onus has been on the borrower to provide proof of their disability, and the process can be long and complicated.
"Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief," said Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell.
He gave the example of one woman, who was left totally and permanently disabled by the side effects of breast cancer treatment. It took her seven years of repeated attempts to get a disability discharge.
"Under the new process, we will notify potentially eligible borrowers about the benefit and guide them through steps needed to discharge their loans, helping thousands of borrowers," Mitchell said.
"Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due."