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The US Department of Education said its application for student loan forgiveness would go live in early October, suggesting it could be ready any day.
As legal challenges to President Joe Biden’s landmark decision to forgive up to $20,000 in debt for millions of Americans mount, experts say borrowers should act quickly when initiating the form.
“If a borrower gets a pardon, they can keep it even if the court blocks the president’s plan,” higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz said.
Here are the steps to follow to prepare for the application.
1. Check if you qualify
Biden announced in August that most federal student loan borrowers would be eligible for some remission: up to $10,000 if they don’t receive a Pell grant, which is a type of aid available to undergraduates. low-income cycle, and up to $20,000 if they did.
Relief will be limited to borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year, or married couples or heads of households earning less than $250,000.
Review your recent tax returns to confirm that your income fell below these thresholds in 2020 or 2021 (either will work). The Department of Education will take into account the so-called Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, which may be different from your gross salary.
To confirm your AGI for 2020 and 2021, find line 11 on the first page of your federal tax return, known as Form 1040.
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Overall, the vast majority — about 37 million borrowers — will be eligible for forgiveness depending on their type of loan, because their debt falls under what’s called the federal William D. Ford Direct Lending Program. This includes direct Stafford loans and all subsidized and unsubsidized direct federal student loans. Under the Direct program, Parent Plus and Grad loans are also eligible for relief.
However, some borrowers with commercially held Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) may unfortunately be excluded from the Jubilee. Borrowers can check if they have one of these loans on Studentaid.gov. Log in with your FSA ID, then go to the “My Help” tab to find your loan details.
2. Determine how much relief you can expect
If you’ve concluded that your income level and loan type don’t exclude you from the Biden administration’s rebate, then you’ll want to consider whether you qualify for $10,000 or $20,000 in assistance.
It comes down to whether or not you received a Pell grant during your undergraduate years.
To find out if your college financial aid package included a Pell grant, check your account on Studentaid.gov. Again, under the “My Help” section, the grant should appear. Most recipients come from families with incomes below $60,000, Kantrowitz said.
If you received the grant for only one year, you will still be eligible for the $20,000 cancellation.
3. Compile a register of your loans
Before requesting a loan cancellation, experts recommend taking screenshots and keeping track of your current loan amounts.
This way you can ensure that your new balance is correct and that you have obtained all of the relief to which you are entitled. If there is a problem, you can discuss it with your student loan officer.
4. Contact your loan manager (if necessary)
If you have questions for your repairman about forgiveness, contact them as soon as possible, experts say.
“Loan servicers are likely to be inundated with questions starting days before maturities,” Kantrowitz said.
You’ll also want to make sure your repairer, as well as the education department, has the most up-to-date contact information for you. You can make sure the data is up to date at StudentAid.gov.
This will ensure that you don’t miss any important information about the forgiveness process.
Finally, the Ministry of Education said that until the loan cancellation application is ready, borrowers can register on its website for updates.
Borrowers have already been informed that they will not need to upload any supporting documents or use their FSA ID for the form.