The application process won’t begin until the beginning of October. However, there are steps that you could do today to start preparing.
The Biden administration’s announcement that eligible customers can get up to $20,000 of forgiveness on federally-held student loans at first brought enthusiastic cheers from those 43 million Americans eligible to have their debts erased. Then, there was a torrent of questions.
The Department of Education has offered details about what the borrowers can expect and will announce more information in the next few weeks.
There are a few important dates to be aware of. The department stated that applications would be open online at the beginning of October and would take four to six weeks to process. The borrowers must complete applications by November 15, according to a graphic published by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, to be granted forgiveness before the payment pause for the pandemic period closes at the end of December. The deadline for applications is December 31, 2023. In addition, applications for limited growth of Public Service’s Loan Forgiveness are due on October 31.
Here are the steps you can take to ensure you are prepared for applications when they are available:
1. Check if you’re eligible.
You’ll be eligible to be forgiven if you earned under $125,000 during 2021 or 2020 – and married, both made less than $250,000, and had Federal student loans before June 30, 2022. The number refers to your Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, in tax returns from any of the previous years.
Pell Grant recipients can get up to $20,000 of debt relief, while holders of other federal loans could get up to $10,000. All federally-held student loans — including undergraduate, graduate, Parent PLUS, or Graduate PLUS are qualified. More fromBloombergEqualityMen’s College Basketball Players Are Already Making Twice as Much as WomenMaternal Mortality Rate in the US Soared 40% in 2021LA Chips Away at Homelessness, Permanent Housing Still ElusiveWomen’s World Cup Prize Boosted, Still $290 Million Under Men’s
It is important to note that forgiveness cannot be granted per loan. However, it is per borrower, which means that even if you have taken out multiple federal loans to fund your education and one personal loan, and one loan from Parent Plus for your child, your forgiveness will not be capped at $10,000 or $20,000, according to financial aid specialist Mark Kantrowitz. Pell Grant beneficiaries who have taken out a single Pell Grant or other federal loans are qualified for $20k in forgiveness even if the award was not for that amount.
Private loans, such as those backed by the government, such as Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) and Perkins loans, are not eligible to be refunded into direct federal loans before September.
2. Find out if you have to complete an application.
The majority of the borrowers have to apply to qualify for relief. However, approximately 8 million people will automatically be included in the program as the Department of Education already has access to their information regarding income. This includes about 6 million students who have recently completed the application for free Federal Student Aid and another 2 million borrowers who are on an income-driven repayment plan and have provided income data in 2020 and 2021. In a dispute, the Department of Education will contact the borrowers eligible to receive a notification.
If you’re not part of this group, you must apply.
3. Join our mailing list for Education Department updates, and make sure your contact details are current with your lender.
To ensure that you’re informed when the application for forgiveness becomes available, sign-up to receive updates on the Education Department webpage by clicking “NEW NEW! Federal Student Loan Borrower News” and entering your email address.
Check with your loan servicer if your contact information is current. If you’re unsure which loan servicer you have, You can look up your dashboard on studentaid.gov.
4. Get your tax returns for 2020 and 2021.
The reason for this application is to collect data on income to determine eligibility. Hence, keeping the 2020 and 2021 tax returns for easy reference to an adjusted net income is helpful. However, the White House said in a Twitter thread that you won’t require additional documents to complete the application.
5. You should determine if you’re eligible for reimbursement for any money you paid during this pandemic.
In the event of a pandemic, any payments made during this period can be reimbursed and later to be canceled. In certain instances, the department has stated refunds will be created automatically If the borrower can request and receive debt forgiveness for their students will be reimbursed the number of their voluntary payments if the charges “brought your debt to below the maximum amount for debt relief you’re entitled to, however, they did not repay your loan completely,” in the FAQ of the Department.
Others who are borrowers of Direct, FFEL, and Perkins loans managed in the Department of Education can still get refunds and later forgiveness for payments made during the epidemic. They’ll have to reach out to their servicers for their loans.
6. Take a look at other forgiveness and repayment options.
One-time forgiveness of loans scheme isn’t the only option open to those in debt. In October, the Department of Education announced a one-time extension of the eligibility criteria for loan forgiveness through public service. Applications for the program are due by October 31 and can be found on the school aid website.
Additionally, the department is adjusting the repayment programs based on income to correct mistakes about eligibility and counting. The change is automatically made, meaning there is no need to be concerned about applying. However, only those with direct loans can apply, so those with FFEL loans that want to be considered for the program must consolidate their loans into direct loans. More details are available at the Student Aid site.
The Department of Education has proposed an income-driven repayment that will cap monthly payments at 5 percent of discretionary income instead of 10 percent, cutting costs by half for many borrowers. Although the rules will likely not be finalized until a few months into 2023, loan industry experts say borrowers should be aware of the possible change to plan their budgets.
The borrowers in financial trouble with direct loans, FFEL loans, and Perkins loans made by the Department of Education are eligible to participate in the Fresh Start program announced in April. It runs for one year following the payment pause expires on December 31. The department will send a letter to borrowers eligible for the program “in the next few months” with information regarding how to apply for the program, as per the assistance site.