The Education Department is now accepting applications through its student loan debt forgiveness form
By Katie Teague
The application for student loan debt relief is officially open, President Joe Biden announced Monday during a press briefing. Over the weekend, the government launched a beta version, and already millions of applications have been processed — Biden said 8 million were “handled” over the weekend. The application will remain open until Dec. 31, 2023.
It takes about two minutes to fill out the short form. You can apply for up to $20,000 in debt relief if you owe money on federal student loans and earned less than $125,000 a year or $250,000 as a head of household or married filing jointly in either 2020 or 2021.
No student loan debt will be canceled until Oct. 23, 2022, at the earliest, as declared in the Education Department’s court document response to a motion for a restraining order in a lawsuit by six Republican-led states to stop the student loan relief program. A federal judge has heard arguments on the restraining order and could grant or deny it any day.
There’s no reason to wait to apply unless you are working to get student loans you’ve paid down refunded.
Learn if you’re eligible for student loan forgiveness and how to apply for student loan debt relief. For more, avoid student loan debt scams by spotting red flags, and learn which states are taxing student loan forgiveness.
Who is eligible to have their student loan debt canceled?
Under President Joe Biden’s plan, the Department of Education will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individual borrowers who make below $125,000 per year or less than $250,000 for married borrowers or those who are heads of households.
You may also be eligible for an additional $10,000 in relief if you received federal Pell Grants while enrolled in college, totaling up to $20,000 in debt relief.
The White House assured borrowers that debt cancellation would occur before federal student loan payments restart on Jan. 1, 2023.
How do you apply for student debt relief?
Most of the estimated 40 million borrowers seeking student loan relief will need to apply for forgiveness using the Education Department’s online form. The department said if you submit an application, it will be processed, and you won’t need to resubmit.
Note that if the Department of Education already has your income information on file, the department may have enough information to automatically forgive your debt without applying. The group who will automatically qualify may number as many as 8 million borrowers and mostly includes those who are enrolled in income-driven repayment plans. The department recommends filling out the form anyway if you think you are in this group in case it doesn’t have enough information to automatically cancel the debt.
If the department doesn’t have your income details on file, you must complete the application to supply the information the department needs to determine if you qualify to have your debt canceled.
You don’t need to upload supporting documents or use your FSA ID to submit your application. The application is now available through desktop and mobile browsers in both English and Spanish versions.
Once you submit your application, it’ll be reviewed to determine your eligibility for debt relief, and the department will work with your loan servicers to process your relief. You’ll receive an email after you submit the form, notifying you it has successfully received your application, and the department will contact you if it needs additional information, such as proof of income. You’ll also receive updates when your application is approved and sent to your loan servicer to process your relief.
Once your loan servicer approves and applies the debt forgiveness to your account, it will notify you and share any additional information necessary, such as your remaining balance.
What information do you need to fill out the student loan relief application?
The Department of Education application for student loan debt forgiveness includes two sections: The first, labeled “Borrower Information,” has fields you’ll fill out to provide information the department needs to determine your eligibility.
The application requires the following personal information from borrowers:
- Name (including a former last name if applicable)
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Phone number
- Email address
The second section, labeled “Review and Submit the Agreement,” is a sworn statement that you are eligible for debt relief. It asks borrowers to affirm that they’re requesting loan forgiveness, that they’re eligible based on the income requirements and that, if asked, they’ll provide proof of income to the Department of Education before March 31, 2024.
How do you access the student debt forgiveness application?
The Education Department’s online form to apply for federal student loan debt relief is available now. Visit studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application to apply.
What is the deadline to apply for student loan debt relief?
Borrowers who are eligible have until Dec. 31, 2023, to apply for forgiveness.
During an Aug. 26 press briefing, National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti said that after borrowers complete their applications, “They can expect relief within four to six weeks.” It’s not clear, however, how postponing student debt cancellation until the proposed Oct. 23 date will affect that time frame.
“Borrowers are advised to apply by roughly Nov. 15, in order to receive relief before the payment pause expires on Dec. 31,” Ramamurti said.
To learn more about the student loan plan, go to the Department of Education subscription page and sign up to receive “Federal Student Loan Borrower Updates,” the first checkbox in a long list of education topics.
If you made payments on your student loans during the moratorium, you can now request a refund from your loan servicer. For anyone who’s not eligible for the student loan forgiveness — or who will still owe money after the debt is canceled — payments and interest are still paused until January 2023.