Student loan forgiveness applications now open through website in beta mode, Biden administration says



CNN

The Biden administration has opened the application process for Americans seeking student debt relief in a beta period starting Friday night, officials told CNN, allowing applicants to begin registering before the website will be officially unveiled later this month.

In August, President Joe Biden announced his decision to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for people earning less than $125,000 a year or up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers who were also Pell Fellowship recipients.

“Tonight, the Department of Education will begin beta testing of the student debt relief website. During the beta testing period, borrowers will be able to submit applications for the student debt relief program of the ‘Biden-Harris administration,’ a spokesperson for the Department of Education told CNN exclusively on Friday.

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

Anyone applying for debt relief during the beta period will receive a confirmation email, but their application will not be processed until the official launch of the site, scheduled for a date to be announced before the end of October. Once processing begins, most eligible borrowers should receive debt relief within weeks.

The spokesperson continued: “These borrowers will not need to reapply if they submit their application during beta testing, but no applications will be processed until the site officially launches later this month. This testing period will allow the Department to monitor the performance of the site through real-world usage, test the site before the official launch of the application, fine-tune processes and uncover any bugs before launch. official.

Borrowers must have student loans held by the federal government to qualify. In addition to direct federal loans used to pay for an undergraduate degree, federal PLUS loans taken by graduate students and parents may also be eligible if the borrower meets income requirements.

Borrowers whose federal student loans are government guaranteed but held by private lenders, many of which were made under the former federal family education loan program and the federal Perkins loan program, are currently excluded – unless a borrower asks to consolidate these loans into direct loans. before September 29.

Individuals who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of households who earned less than $250,000 per year in those years are eligible for cancellation of up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt. Income thresholds are based on adjusted gross income.

After submitting the application once the website officially launches, most eligible borrowers should receive debt relief within weeks.

Officials said the “goal” was to start processing debt relief before next January, when student loan repayments begin after a multi-year freeze amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Education is facing several lawsuits challenging the student loan forgiveness policy. A U.S. district judge may soon decide to temporarily block the program from taking effect after hearing a motion for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday. This could put student loan forgiveness on hold until the judge makes a final decision on the case.

The Department of Education’s technical team will review the site’s performance in real time and the beta version of the website will have scheduled breaks while the team assesses needed improvements and adjustments, an administration official said. to CNN in a phone interview, with another official adding that “large spikes in demand” are expected. Anyone trying to submit their application during a beta break will be encouraged to return.

While no changes are being made to the app itself, changes may be made to the website software as the technical team tracks its operation in beta mode.

The application form will include information about debt relief, who qualifies for it and how it works. It will ask applicants for information, including their full names, social security number, date of birth, phone number, and email address.

Potential applicants who have already signed up to receive updates on the student debt relief process will receive an email notifying them of the beta website, and once the website is officially launched, the White House will begin to leverage its social channels to spread the word. There are also plans to notify digital creators and influencers in the coming weeks, officials said.

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