You Can Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness Now. Here’s What to Know


The Biden Administration’s application for student debt relief officially launched on Monday, days after the Education Department published a beta version, beginning the process of providing student debt relief to about 40 million borrowers.

Borrowers can now apply for up to $20,000 in student loan relief—anytime before Dec. 31, 2023. The more than 8 million borrowers who already applied during the beta launch do not need to reapply to be considered.

“We’ll determine your eligibility and will contact you if we need more information,” the federal student aid site states. “Your loan servicer will notify you when your relief has been processed.”

The application launch comes as the debt-forgiveness program faces several legal challenges, including lawsuits from a conservative legal organization and Republican-led states. It is also just a few weeks before the midterm elections that could undo Democrats’ narrow majority in Congress.

President Biden acknowledged the lawsuits in remarks on Monday, but said he doesn’t expect them to get in the way of debt relief.

Who can apply for student loan forgiveness?

People who make less than $125,000 per year, or families who make less than $250,000 per year, are eligible for up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness. Borrowers who meet those same income requirements and attended college with Pell Grants, designed to help low-income students, are eligible for up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

The income requirement is based on a person’s adjusted gross income, which is usually lower than their total income. A person’s adjusted gross income can be found on line 11 of the IRS Form 1040 in their federal income tax filings from 2020 or 2021.

What details do I need in order to apply?

The brief application asks borrowers for their name, social security number, birthday, and contact information. No further documentation is required, but borrowers are asked to certify under penalty of perjury that they meet the eligibility requirements for the debt forgiveness program. The Education Department could request proof of income later.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona previously said borrowers could expect to see relief four to six weeks after completing the application, and he encouraged them to fill out the application by Nov. 15 in order to receive relief before the pandemic-related pause on student loan repayment ends.

“This is a game-changer for millions of Americans,” Biden said in remarks on Monday, calling the application launch a step toward “making education a ticket to the middle class that folks can actually afford.”

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