Application for student loan forgiveness is now open: How to apply

The US government opened a website to allow Americans with federal student loans to apply for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness.

The site comes after the Biden administration said its goal was to create an application that would be “short and simple.” The application only takes a few minutes to complete, but can leave some borrowers with questions about the timing of debt forgiveness, among other things.

President Biden highlighted the new debt relief website in a press briefing Monday, saying the forgiveness program is now open and calling it a “game-changer for millions of Americans.” On Friday, the Department of Education opened a beta version of the application and on Monday went live with the website to apply for loan relief.

About 95% of Americans with college loans are expected to qualify for forgiveness, while the rest earn too much money and are ineligible. Although the program could help about 40 million Americans carrying debt from higher education, it has also drawn legal challenges from conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups seeking to block the effort.

Unless those challenges result in a court injunction, the filing shows the Department of Education is on track “to begin forgiving student loans in November and December ahead of January 2023, when student loan repayment is expected to resume,” noted Benjamin Salisbury, an analyst at Height Securities, in a research note.

Here’s what you need to know about applying for student debt forgiveness.

When will the loan waiver website be launched?

Mr. Biden said the program officially opened Monday and directed people to a government website, studentaid.gov, where they can apply for loan forgiveness.

In a press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration has seen an “overwhelmingly strong response” to the new site since its launch.

More than 8 million people have applied for forgiveness through the beta site since it opened on Oct. 15, according to Education Minister Miguel Cardona.

If I completed the beta application, do I need to apply again?

No, according to the Biden administration.

“If you submit an application under this [beta] period, it will be processed when the site is officially launched,” the education department said. “You don’t need to resubmit. If you have already applied and received a confirmation email, you do not need to apply again.”

How long is the application?

The application is short with two sections that only take a few minutes to complete.

  • The first section requires you to enter basic information about yourself, including name, date of birth, email and CPR number.
  • The second section is a “certificate” that you are eligible for loan forgiveness, including that your income falls below the eligibility limit.

Only individuals who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples with combined annual income below $250,000 are eligible for loan relief under the program.

The application does not require borrowers to upload tax forms or other documents.

However, Biden administration officials said there may be cases where some applicants are required to provide more documentation to confirm eligibility. For example, borrowers who “are more likely to exceed the income limit” may have to provide tax returns or other documents to verify their income meets eligibility requirements, an official said.

Is there an application deadline?

Yes. The deadline is 31 December 2023, which means that people with student debt have more than a year to send their application to the Ministry of Education.

People who want to make sure they get debt relief before student loan repayment resumes in January should make sure to apply for forgiveness before 15 Novemberas it can take several weeks for the Danish Agency for Education to process the application.

What happens if I claim to be eligible when I am not?

The attestation portion of the form requires applicants to certify that they are eligible “under penalty of perjury.” By signing the certificate, applicants confirm that they earn below the income limits established by the program and that they are the person applying for loan forgiveness.

People who claim to be eligible for loan forgiveness but actually earn above the income limit could face fines and other problems, including prison terms, administration officials have said.

Could legal challenges stop loan forgiveness?

It is possible, according to experts. Several lawsuits have been filed to block the student debt relief program, where a judge is expected to rule soon on a challenge filed by six GOP-led states. These challenges could delay or even derail the government’s loan forgiveness program.

Asked about the legal challenges, Biden said Monday he didn’t think they were “legitimate.”

If the judge refuses to grant a national injunction on the debt relief program, “the Biden administration can be expected to quickly forgive student loans, effectively further complicating the litigation,” Salisbury noted in his report.

He added: “The decision will face a risk of appeal by both parties, in which case the case will then be heard by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it will likely face a panel of conservative judges.”

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