Oct 23rd, 2022, 09:00 AM

The U.S. Student Debt Relief Application is Live

By Lola Rock
Image Credit: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle
Here's how to apply if you're eligible

In August, the White House announced that U.S. President Joe Biden would be canceling $10,000 worth of student loan debt for eligible applicants, and up to $20,000 worth of debt for Pell grant recipients. Last week, Biden and the U.S. Department of Education released the official version of the application website for those looking to receive the aid, which followed a brief beta testing period. Those eligible for student loan relief can now begin the official application for loan forgiveness. 

During the three day beta period, the Department of Education received more than 8 million applications successfully. Currently, over 22 million borrowers have submitted applications. According to the Department of Education, the purpose of the beta version was to test the platform and make any necessary improvements before the official launch. The Education department said that people who applied during the beta period can rest assured that their applications have been submitted. 

Who qualifies for aid?

Only borrowers with loans held by the Department of Education are eligible for forgiveness. Individuals whose annual income is below $125,000 (for individuals) or $250,000 (for couples or heads of households) are eligible for up to $10,000 worth of aid. Individuals who received a Pell Grant in college and meet the income threshold are eligible for an additional $10,000, bringing the total for them up to $20,000 in aid.

Borrowers who paid for part or all of their Department of Education-owned student loans since the interest pause, which began in March of 2020, are eligible for a refund of the money paid during that period. Those individuals should apply for a refund of this money before applying for student loan relief.

At this stage, it is impossible to know exactly which groups will receive the most aid, but some reports have given a preliminary estimate. A Goldman Sachs report published in late August said that the new policy is intended to aid lower-income households with student debt with the “largest proportional cut in debt payments.” Another study by JPMorgan Chase said that a smaller share (51%) of total forgiveness would be allocated to the bottom 60% of households. They also report that “Black and Hispanic households receive more cancelation relative to their population share."

The Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington D.C. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Farragutful)

How to apply

The Application is available now at https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application.

The form is easy and straightforward to fill out, and also includes some information about the new debt relief plan and more information about who qualifies. The Department of Education will use the information provided on your form to verify your income on your 2020 or 2021 tax returns and double-check eligibility for the one-time student loan forgiveness.

The application does not require a FAFSA ID or any official documents - all that is required is your full name, social security number, date of birth, email, and phone number. 

Following submission of the application, a confirmation notice should pop up along with a confirmation email. This is the end of the application process, and information won’t have to be re-submitted. The Department of Education suggests people submit applications by Nov. 15, 2022, to receive forgiveness before student loan payments resume in January. Once your application is submitted and the official site is launched, people can expect relief within four to six weeks if approved.  The application closes on Dec. 31, 2023.

The Department of Education has been warning people of scams, so ensure you are on the official website before providing any personal information. Do not apply through any third-party company, which may also require payment. Emails from the department of education are only sent through the following emails:

Image Credit: U.S. Department of Education

Can you fill the form out from abroad?

Americans abroad have reported issues accessing the application. Foreign IP addresses are reportedly being blocked, preventing users from accessing the online application. According to Forbes, the education department is reportedly looking for a solution to this issue. If access to technology turns out to be a long term issue, a paper application is also becoming available within the coming weeks to use if necessary.

How long will the form be up?

For people with ongoing payments on their loans, it's recommended that you apply before Nov. 15 to ensure that the relief is processed before student loan payments resume in January. However the form will be open until Dec. 31, 2023, for anyone looking to apply.