False Alarm!

Did You Get A Loan Forgiveness Email? It May Have Been Sent In Error

Nine million student loan borrowers were falsely told that their forgiveness application was approved.

Originally Published: 
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Thanks to an email oversight, nine million student loan borrowers were falsely informed that they were approved for student loan forgiveness. The emails were sent along with 16 million legitimate approval emails by the Department of Education back in November, informing a portion of the 26 million people who applied for President Biden’s landmark debt relief plan that they were approved for debt relief. Erroneous approval emails were sent to those who could not be approved due to the legal problems plaguing the program and to some who had not yet even applied for loan forgiveness.

But what does it mean that borrowers got those erroneous emails? Is there anything those people can do? And will they ultimately get their loans forgiven? Here’s what you need to know.

What To Know About The Student Loan Forgiveness Emails

The incorrect emails were sent by a firm contracted by the Department of Education, called Accenture Federal Services, just before Thanksgiving. The subject line of the emails read, "Your Student Loan Debt Relief Plan Has Been Approved.” However, the body of the email contradicted the subject line and correctly informed borrowers that determinations are paused until the lawsuits against Biden’s forgiveness program are resolved.

"Accenture Federal Services regrets the human error that led to an email being sent to a number of student loan debt relief applicants with an inaccurate subject line," the company said. "Working closely with the Department, Accenture Federal Services will review quality control measures to support accurate and timely communications to applicants in the Student Loan Debt Relief program."

The error is bound to cause additional confusion in an already confusing situation.

"Communicating clearly and accurately with borrowers is a top priority of the Department," a Department of Education representative told CBS. "We are in close touch with Accenture Federal Services as they take corrective action to ensure all borrowers and those affected have accurate information about debt relief."

If you received an email with the subject line “Your Student Loan Debt Relief Plan Has Been Approved,” read the body of the email to determine whether your loan forgiveness was actually approved or if you received one of the emails sent in error.

What To Know About The Student Loan Cancellation Program

President Biden’s debt relief plan, which promises to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for qualified borrowers and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, has been in legal limbo almost since it was announced in August. A number of lawsuits have clogged the works, leading to a Texas Federal Court judge issuing an injunction against the program, which halted the approval and application process entirely.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding the case in February 2023, with a decision to come in June of that year.

The lawsuits have left the beleaguered program in a sort of legal purgatory, and tens of millions of U.S. borrowers are in limbo as they wait to find out what their financial futures have in store.

Around 40 million Americans are expected to be eligible for the program if it is revived after all the legal wrangling is complete. Until then, President Biden announced that the pandemic payment pause, which has been in effect since March 2020 and was set to expire at the end of 2022, will remain in effect until 60 days after the Supreme Court makes a decision or until June 30, 2023, whichever comes first.

“It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit,” Biden said in a Twitter video.

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