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Student Loan Forgiveness Site Open For Business

December 31, 2023 is the deadline to apply for up to $20,000 in student loan relief

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The Department of Education (DOE) has officially opened its online application site for the new federal student loan forgiveness program.

Students with Pell Grants, which are available to outstanding students with exceptional hardship, will be able to get up to $20,000 in federal student loans forgiven. Those without Pell grants can get up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt wiped away. Debt forgiveness is limited to individuals with less than $125,000 in annual income and couples with less than $250,000 in income.

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Private loans are not eligible to be forgiven. Federal Family Education Loans and Perkins Loans that were not consolidated into federal Direct Loans before Sept. 29, 2022, won’t qualify, either.

Americans owed $1.6 trillion in student loan debt in 2020. People age 50 and over accounted for $340 billion of that debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The DOE says that nearly 27 million borrowers will be eligible for some debt relief, with 20 million able to have all their loans forgiven.

What you need to apply for student loan debt relief

The DOE website, which officially opened Oct. 17, is the only place where borrowers can apply for the debt relief. The form asks for the borrower’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, phone number and e-mail. No documents are required, but borrowers must certify under penalty of perjury that all of the information is correct. The application form is available in English and Spanish.

Borrowers will get a confirmation e-mail or a request from the DOE for more information, if needed. Whoever is administering the loan will then contact borrowers to let them know what their new payment is once the amount of the loan forgiveness is applied, assuming a balance remains.

During its testing phase, the site handled about 8 million applications, according to the White House. “It’s easy, simple and fast,” President Joe Biden said Monday. “No forms to upload. No special login to remember.”

Borrowers have until Dec. 31, 2023, to apply for loan forgiveness, but the sooner they get the application in, the better. Those whose payments have been paused because of the pandemic will have to start making loan payments again in January. The DOE recommends that borrowers apply for forgiveness by Nov. 15, so they won’t have to pay after the student loan payment pause ends.

Help for public service

In August, the DOE announced an overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which forgives the remaining balance of student loans from borrowers with 120 qualifying payments while working full time for a qualifying employer, such as a police or fire department.

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For a limited time, borrowers under the PSLF program may be able to get credit for past periods of loan repayment that otherwise wouldn’t qualify for PSLF. Under this program, 22,000 borrowers could get loan forgiveness, and an additional 27,000 can qualify if they certify past employment. The government offers a limited waiver of some requirements for PSLF debt relief. The deadline to apply is Oct. 31.

The overall loan forgiveness program will cost the federal government about $400 billion over 30 years, or about $13.3 billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Biden administration faces several lawsuits on its debt cancellation policy.

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