BENSON, NC – A disability advocate in North Carolina is excited about the federal government’s plan to write off more than $ 5.8 billion in student loans to those living with total or permanent disability.
What would you like to know
Over 323,000 total and permanent disability (PDT) borrowers to receive over $ 5.8 billion in automatic student loan discharges
Eligible individuals will be identified in Social Security and Veterans Affairs databases
Chris Baucom of the Alliance of Disability Advocates says many of his clients are “overwhelmed with debt”
Chris Baucom works as a Community Inclusion Specialist for the Raleigh-based Alliance of Disability Advocates.
Each week, Baucom, who lives in Benson, visits around 15 people with disabilities to provide support services.
“Whether it’s helping them clean or manage their home, get out into the community and find new jobs,” said Baucom. “It was awesome … I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
Baucom says many of its customers also face financial challenges.
“They are overwhelmed with debt,” Baucom said. “They have medical bills, they see doctors every month, and they get all kinds of bills.”
Paying off student loans can be almost impossible for some of your clients. That’s why he’s happy to hear about the US Department of Education’s commitment to debt relief for over 323,000 borrowers who are unable to work due to their disabilities.
“When you live on a fixed income of $ 800 to $ 1,500 [a month] if you’re lucky… $ 200 goes a long way, ”said Baucom.
Baucom maintains personal relationships with its customers. He has approximately $ 60,000 in student loans and uses a wheelchair after a tragic ATV accident in 2006.
Baucom returned to school after working in construction for 20 years to earn a degree in communications. He was hoping to become a 911 dispatcher, but says he couldn’t type fast enough.
“It’s a challenge with student loans and medical bills,” Baucom said.
Baucom says that because he works full time, he is not entitled to disability loan relief. However, since he works for a non-profit organization, he will soon be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
“Knowing that after three years, I don’t have to pay this money anymore,” Baucom said. “That would be great.”
Lifting any kind of financial burden is a breath of fresh air, especially for Baucom and the people it works with.
“Once that student loan debt is gone,” Baucom said. “I’m going to put this money into typing lessons and become a 911 dispatcher.”
To learn more about the Total and Permanent Disability Leave Program, visit the US Department of Education website.