FAQs of Total Permanent Disability (TPD) Student Loan Discharge Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Nelnet?

Nelnet is the Government contractor responsible for administering the TPD student loan discharge program.

What exactly is TPD discharge?

The Total Permanent Disability (TPD) student loan discharge program is a program in which federal student loans are forgiven if you are considered “totally and permanently disabled.”

Do Social Security benefits, child support payments, unemployment benefits, or other related federal programs count against my earnings during the three-year post-discharge monitoring period?

No. These are all considered unearned income.

Prior to Covid-19, the Department of Education required you to submit documentation of any earnings during the three-year post-discharge monitoring period. Because of Covid-19, this is no longer required, and will no longer be required according to the Department. Do I still have to adhere to the poverty guidelines for a family of two?

Yes, just because you are no longer required to report your earnings, doesn’t mean that your loans couldn’t be reinstated if you exceed these guidelines.

How are the poverty guidelines determined for approved TPD discharge borrowers?

Each year, the Department of Health and Human Services issues poverty guidelines for all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia. During the three-year post-discharge monitoring period, an individual considered to be TPD cannot make more than the poverty guideline for a family of two. Similarly to SGA, this figure is adjusted based on cost of living.

Does this mean I can make as much as I want without restriction?

While you do not currently have to report your earnings, the three-year post-monitoring period still remains in effect.

If I decided to get my master’s degree after my federal student loans were forgiven, can I graduate and reapply for TPD discharge?

TPD discharge can only be used once. Additionally, if you decide to apply for federal loans to get another degree, the previously forgiven loans will be reinstated.

As an SSI/SSDI beneficiary, how will I know if I’m eligible for TPD discharge?

The Department has an administrative data match program, the purpose of which is to identify eligible recipients that qualify for TPD discharge. Beginning in September 2021, these individuals will be identified and automatically discharged. However, you as a beneficiary have the option to decline. If you have not received a letter from the Department and believe you may qualify for TPD discharge, you may contact Nelnet by calling 1-888-303-7818.

Is the elimination of the three-year post-discharge monitoring period being considered by the Department of Education?

The Department of Education announced that they will pursue eliminating the three-year post-monitoring period in October during “the negotiated rulemaking.” We will know more what that will look like once the final rule is posted to the Federal Register.

Who can I contact for more information about the TPD discharge program?

For more information about the TPD student loan discharge program, please contact Stephanie Flynt, Government Affairs Specialist at the National Federation of the Blind at [email protected] or at 410-659-9314, extension 2210. You can also call Nelnet’s Total and Permanent Disability Servicer at 1-888-303-7818.