Student Loan Forgiveness Application Questions & Answers

Student Loan Forgiveness Application Questions Answers

Student Loan Forgiveness Application Questions & Answers

The U.S. Department of Education has launched its official application for student loan forgiveness, meaning tens of millions of Americans can now request the financial relief.

The launch follows a short beta test, during which time the Department of Education offered on and off access to the form while it tested the site. Borrowers could apply for forgiveness in those windows when the portal was open.

More than 8 million people applied for relief over the weekend, President Joe Biden said Monday during a speech at the White House.

Who Qualifies For This Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

Most people with federal student loans are below the income threshold and would qualify for Biden’s plan. Undergraduate loans, graduate loans and Parent Plus loans held by the Education Department are all eligible for cancellation.

Until recently, people with privately held loans from the defunct Federal Family Education Loans program could consolidate into a Direct Loan to be eligible for relief. However, the Education Department said in late September it would no longer allow those borrowers to take advantage of Biden’s cancellation program. The agency said it is still looking for a solution to expand relief.

Calculate how much of your student loan debt can be forgiven

Where Can I Apply?

The application is available at https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application. The Education Department had previously said a paper version would also be available.

“Today I’m announcing how millions of people, working-class folks, can apply to get this relief,” Biden said.

The president announced in August that most federal student loan borrowers will be eligible for some forgiveness: up to $10,000 if they didn’t receive a Pell Grant, which is a type of aid available to low-income undergraduate students, and up to $20,000 if they did.

More than 40 million Americans are in debt for their education, owing a cumulative $1.7 trillion, a balance that far exceeds outstanding credit card or auto debt. Skyrocketing higher education costs coupled with stagnant wages have caused the amount of student debt people graduate with to soar. Today the average balance is more than $30,000, up from $12,000 in 1980.

Before the pandemic, when the U.S. economy was enjoying one of its healthiest periods in history, problems plagued the federal student loan system. Only about half of borrowers were in repayment in 2019, according to an estimate by higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

A quarter — or more than 10 million people — were in delinquency or default, and the rest had applied for temporary relief for struggling borrowers, including deferments or forbearances. These grim figures led to comparisons to the 2008 mortgage crisis.

In the background of the White House’s official application launch is a growing number of legal challenges brought by Republicans against the president’s plan.

“Republican members of Congress and Republican governors are trying to do everything they can to deny this relief, even to their own constituents,” Biden said. “Their outrage is wrong and its hypocritical.”

Here’s what borrowers need to know about applying.

What Information Does The Application Require?

In addition to your full name and date of birth, you’ll also have to provide your Social Security number.

If you don’t have those nine digits memorized, consult the Social Security card you were issued; it has your number on it. If you’ve lost your card, you can get a replacement at the Social Security Administration’s website.

You don’t need your Federal Student Aid ID, also called an FSA ID, to apply for forgiveness, and proof of income won’t be required unless the Education Department follows up with an additional request.

The department will verify a certain number of borrowers have told the truth about their eligibility as a fraud prevention measure, although more than 90% of federal student loan borrowers fall below the income caps for the relief: $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.

When Will My Application Be Processed?

The Education Department previously said applications filed during the beta test would will be processed once the application officially launched.

But the department said it will not cancel any loans before Oct. 23, according to a court filing. The Biden administration is fighting several lawsuits attempting to block the policy and has agreed to stand down on discharges in at least one of those cases.

How Will The Education Department Know If I Received A Pell Grant?

The application for forgiveness doesn’t ask whether you received a Pell Grant. There’s no reason to worry, though, Kantrowitz said. The Education Department has that information already.

What Happens After I Apply?

After a borrower applies for forgiveness, they’ll receive an email confirmation from the Education Department, Kantrowitz said.

The department will then review the application to confirm eligibility, he said. Some borrowers may receive a request from the department for additional information, including proof of income.

When your request for relief is approved, you’ll receive an email saying so from the department. You’ll then hear from your loan servicer when the forgiveness has been applied to your account.

Make sure your servicer, as well as the Education Department, has the most recent contact information for you. You can do so at StudentAid.gov.

“Litigation is underway and our legal judgment is that it won’t” get in the way of the program, Biden said Monday. “But they are trying to stop it.”

A federal judge in Missouri is deliberating on whether to impose an injunction to halt the program until a ruling is made on a lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states. In the meantime, the department is collecting applications.

The administration has said applicants will receive relief within four to six weeks once it begins processing them.

Is There A Deadline To Apply?

Borrowers have untill Dec. 31, 2023, to apply for the forgiveness program. But the administration has recommended that people apply by Nov. 15 to have the form processed before the pause on federal student loan payments ends. Payments are set to resume in January.

Will I Need To Verify Any Information Later?

Maybe. The Education Department estimates between 1 million and 5 million borrowers may be required to submit more information to verify income or eligibility. The number of people flagged for verification depends on the total number of applicants, according to the agency.

It disclosed in a regulatory submission to the Office of Management and Budget that applicants who present a higher likelihood of exceeding the income threshold will probably have to provide documentation to prove their income.

Do You Have More Questions?

The Education Department has a toll-free hotline for borrowers who have questions about the application: 833-932-3439.

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