You Can File for Student Loan Forgiveness Now

Borrowers can apply to have up to $20,000 forgiven

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If you have federally-held student loans, you can now file for debt forgiveness.

The extremely simple form to apply for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness officially launched Monday. The deadline to file isn’t until the end of 2023, but with several legal challenges to President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness order working their way through the courts, experts say the sooner borrowers file, the better.

“It is important to file the form ASAP,” said student loan expert and author Mark Kantrowitz, in an email. “If the courts eventually decide to block the president's student loan forgiveness plan, any borrower who has already received forgiveness is likely to get to keep that forgiveness.”

The launch of the application means that borrowers with federal student loans can now take action to secure the loan forgiveness that Biden announced in August, which will grant up to $20,000 to borrowers who went to college with Pell grants, and $10,000 to those who did not have those grants. Borrowers must have an adjusted gross income of less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 for married couples filing taxes jointly on their 2020 or 2021 taxes to qualify. Those relatively high limits mean that 95% of borrowers will be able to receive forgiveness, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

“This is a game changer for millions of Americans,” President Joe Biden said in a speech Monday.

Currently, borrowers with private loans, or FFEL or Perkins loans held by private lenders, are not eligible, though the Department of Education said it is talking with lenders about offering forgiveness for all FFEL and Perkins loans.

The form was initially launched as a “beta” version over the weekend and was fully launched on Monday. The Department of Education said on its website that those who applied during the “beta” period wouldn’t have to reapply. It has said in court filings that it will not actually forgive any debt until Oct. 23.

The form only asks for a few pieces of basic information from applicants and does not require submitting any documents or logging in—the department estimates it takes about five minutes to complete. Nearly 8 million borrowers whose income information is already on file with the Deparment of Education should automatically have their loans forgiven, but the department encourages everyone eligible to apply anyway.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Deadline Approaching, Too

On top of that, a deadline is fast approaching for another avenue for student loan forgiveness: Public servants eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness have until Oct. 31 to apply under a temporary program that greatly expands eligibility. 

The program, which forgives borrowers’ entire remaining balance if they’ve worked for a government or nonprofit group for 10 years, normally has very restrictive conditions requiring you to make all payments on time and make payments only under certain income-driven repayment plans. Under a temporary waiver, which expires at the end of this month, late payments and payments made under other types of repayment plans are counted, making many more people eligible. As of mid-August, 211,000 people had had their loans forgiven under the temporary waiver, the department said. 

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This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the “beta” test of the application ended and was fully launched on Monday.

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  1. Eric Schmitt, Missouri Attorney General. "Attorney General Schmitt, Five Other States File Suit Challenging Biden Administration’s Student Loan Cancellation Program."

  2. The White House. “Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most.”

  3. Congressional Budget Office. Letter to Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Virginia Foxx.

  4. Federal Student Aid. “One-time Federal Student Loan Debt Relief.”

  5. United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division. “Defendants’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction.” Page 20

  6. Federal Student Aid. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan Explained.”

  7. Federal Student Aid. “Public Service Loan Forgiveness Data.”

  8. U.S. Department of Education. “Fact Sheet: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Overhaul.”

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