On Friday, October 14, the Biden administration’s Department of Education launched the beta version of its student debt relief application. This means Americans can now start the application process to receive the student debt cancellation they are owed. But those applications aren’t going to be processed right away. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is the Student Loan Forgiveness Program?
In August, the Biden administration released details on its student debt forgiveness plan. The federal government will cancel $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower who make under $125,000 a year. In addition, anyone who received the Pell Grant and makes under $125,000 a year will have up to $20,000 in student loan debt canceled. Significant reforms to income-driven repayment programs have also been proposed — reforms that could pay dividends for borrowers down the line and make student loans much easier to manage.
Once it’s launched and running, the one-time program will eliminate debt for 43 million people. Twenty million of those people will have their debt completely wiped out.
How To Apply For The Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Application
Filling out the application can be done online and requires pretty standard personal information, including:
- the applicant’s full name
- former name, if applicable
- social security number
- date of birth
- phone number
In addition, applicants have to provide proof of income if the Department of Education asks for it and confirmations that they meet all the student loan forgiveness requirements, and provide a digital signature.
The Beta Site Isn’t Processing The Student Loan Forgiveness Applications, But You Can Still Apply
According to CNN, although the website is live and allows people to fill out applications, the site hasn’t been “officially launched.”
This means that applications aren’t being processed yet. But when the site does launch, those who applied during the beta launch won’t need to reapply — those applications they filed will be processed at launch time.
“Anyone who applies for the debt relief in the beta period will receive a confirmation email,” CNN explains, “but their application will not be processed until the site formally launches, expected at a to-be-announced date before the end of October. Once processing begins, most qualifying borrowers are expected to receive debt relief within weeks.”
The purpose of the beta launch is to allow the administration to troubleshoot any issues before it’s widely open to the public. When that will happens, though, is still up in the air. The “goal” date to begin processing the student loan debt forgiveness applications is before January 2023.
When the full launch does open, the portal will be available at https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application. This is the site to visit during the beta test as well. However, the administration notes that “the department’s technical team will be pausing the site at various points for assessments, refinements, and maintenance,” per Washington Post.
The agency says borrowers who try to access the site but are unable to should try again later or wait until the application process is officially open. The agency said there’s no advantage to applying before the full launch — so do with that what you will!
Essential Deadlines You Need To Know For The Student Debt Forgiveness Program
Regardless of when the program officially opens for applications, the deadline for applying is December 31, 2023, so most people will have around one year to apply for forgiveness.
Borrowers eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) limited waiver, a program that cancels debt for certain public service workers, are also eligible for the widespread student loan forgiveness program, provided they make under $125,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that the deadline to apply for the PSLF limited waiver is quickly approaching — on October 31 — so be sure to apply before then to maximize your loan forgiveness potential.