Perkins Loan Discharges

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

*** New Application Process Effective: 7/1/2013 ***

(Different rules apply for VA disability - See below.)

Total & Permanent Disability (TPD) is the inability to work and earn money because of an injury or illness that is expected to continue indefinitely or to result in death. If you wish to request a disability discharge on your Perkins loan, you will now apply directly with the Department of Education through their Total & Permanent Disability Servicer, Nelnet. Here is their website:

There are now three ways in which Nelnet/ Department of Education (DOE) will determine your TPD discharge eligibility:

  • Physician’s certification of total and permanent disability. The physician must certify that you are 100 percent disabled according to the definition of disability above.
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) documentation showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
  • New: If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and you have received a notice of award from SSDI or SSI for those benefits, you may apply. The notice of award must state that the individual’s next scheduled disability review will be within 5-7 years from the date of your most recent Social Security Administration (SSA) disability determination. 

Once the TPD Servicer, Nelnet/ DOE, receives notice of your intent to apply for discharge, they will notify The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). At that point we will place your Perkins Loan on temporary suspension and we will stop collection activity. You will have 120 days to submit all the necessary TPD documents to Nelnet. Once Nelnet/ DOE has received all of your application materials, then they will review your status and determine your discharge eligibility.

If Nelnet/DOE has determined that you are eligible for a TPD discharge, they will place your loan in a conditional discharge period for three years from the date you became totally and permanently disabled. (The 3 year discharge period is only applicable to the Physicians determination and the SSA determination. In the case of a VA determination, your loan will be discharged immediately without a waiting period.)

During this 3 year period, you do not have to pay principal or interest. If you continue to meet the Total & Permanent Disability requirements during, and at the end of, the three year conditional period, your loan will be discharged. If you do not continue to meet the cancellation requirements, you must resume loan payments to the Department of Education directly. If you should have questions about this new application process, please call the Nelnet Total & Permanent Disability Service Center at: 888-303-7818 or email them at:

VA Disability

Borrowers who receive a permanent total disability rating from the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs due to a service-connected condition will be considered permanently and totally disabled.

Death Discharge

Cancellation of a Perkins loan because of the borrower's death is based on an original or certified copy of the death certificate submitted to the school.

9-11 Public Service Discharge

The Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2006 (THEAA) authorized the discharge of the outstanding balance of a Perkins Loan made to the spouse of an eligible public servant who is a police officer, firefighter, or other safety or rescue personnel or a member of the Armed Forces, who died or became permanently and totally disabled due to injuries suffered in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This discharge is only available on loans that were owed on September 11, 2001.

For questions or additional information, please call, write, email, or fax our office.