President Joe Biden on Monday announced the official launch of the student loan forgiveness application. The news comes just days after the U.S. Department of Education made available on Friday evening an early version of its student loan forgiveness application.
During the application’s short so-called beta period, Americans with student debt were finally able to officially request their relief, although their access was intermittent: The department’s technical team occasionally paused the site to make needed changes and improvements.
More than 8 million people applied for relief over the weekend, Biden said.
Biden 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.
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Here’s what else you need to know if you applied for relief during the testing period.
Will I have to re-apply now that the form officially launched?
No. The Education Department says that applications submitted during the testing period will be processed. There is no need to apply a second time later.
What’s the advantage if I applied during beta?
Applications submitted during the beta period will be processed now that the official form has launched, said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. Those who applied during the beta, he said, “will be first in line.”
There are two main reasons it makes sense to act swiftly here.
A number of Republican legal challenges have been brought against the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, risking to put the policy in jeopardy.
But, Kantrowitz said, “any borrower who has already received forgiveness will likely get to keep it, even if the courts block the President’s plan.”
He went on: “The courts tend to not claw back benefits that have already been received.”
The Education Department also says that after a borrower applies for forgiveness, they will get the relief within six weeks.
Applying now means that when student loan payments restart in January, after the pandemic-era pause on the bills expire, you won’t have to make payments if your debt is fully erased or larger payments than necessary if you’re left with a smaller balance.
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 with your number on it. If you’ve lost your card, you can get a replacement at the Social Security Administration’s website.
Any borrower who has already received forgiveness will likely get to keep it, even if the courts block the President’s plan.Mark Kantrowitzhigher education expert
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 bellow the income caps for the relief: $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.
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 or not. 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.
Have more questions?
The Education Department has a toll-free hotline for borrowers who have questions about the application: 833-932-3439.
Did you just apply for student loan forgiveness? If you’re willing to talk about what the moment means for you, please email me at email@example.com.