Disability Discharge Eligibility

If you are permanently disabled, you might qualify for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge. A discharge would relieve you from having to repay your federal student loan balance.

I am disabled, can I discharge my federal student loans?

You may be able to discharge your federal student loans due to a permanent disability. Here are some things to know:

  • You can only discharge federal student loans. TEACH grants also qualify. Private loans do not qualify.
  • You must be permanently disabled and cannot engage in a “substantial gainful activity”, which basically means you can’t work.
  • You must certify your disability through a physician, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Your disability  must have lasted or is expected to last  60 continuous months (5 years), or it can result in death.
  • You have to submit an application with supporting documentation.
  • Nelnet is the only student loan servicer processing Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge applications.

I think I qualify, how do I start the process?

  • The easiest way is to apply online.  The application will guide you through the process.
  • You can also complete a paper application. To get the latest application, call Nelnet at 888-303-7818 or email DisabilityInformation@Nelnet.net.

Tip: You can authorize a representative to help you with the application.  This can be someone you trust, an advocate or attorney.

What happens after I apply?

  • Your payments will be suspended while your application is reviewed.
  • If you qualify, you will be placed on a three year monitoring period.
      • The monitoring period only applies if you certify your disability through a physician or the Social Security Administration.
      • It does not apply if you certify through the VA and you can’t work due to a service-connected disability.
  • If you don’t meet the monitoring period requirements, your loans will be reinstated and you will be required to make payments.

Can I discharge Parent PLUS loans due to disability?

In general, parents with PLUS loans may apply for discharge based on their own disability, but not the disability of their children.  If both parents obtained the Parent PLUS loan, the disability of only one parent does not allow for discharge.

What’s next?

Read the Total and Permanent Disability application carefully.  Gather the information you will need to submit with your application. Contact us if you have questions, or if you need help applying.