Student Loan Forgiveness: 3 Important Dates Borrowers Should Know

An activist holds a cancel student debt sign as they gather to rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug. 25, 2022. Biden announced the day before that most U.S. university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief. Getty Images
An activist holds a cancel student debt sign as they gather to rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug. 25, 2022. Biden announced the day before that most U.S. university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief.
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President Joe Biden’s plan for student loan forgiveness is official, but borrowers still have more questions than answers.

And there’s one question, in particular, that’s top of mind for borrowers: When will borrowers who qualify for $10,000 or $20,000 in student loan forgiveness get their debt to be canceled?

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Biden’s student loan plan, which promises to eliminate up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for borrowers, has been held up in federal court for weeks now due to lawsuits from Republican-led states and conservative groups, and it’s unclear whether the plan will move forward.

Despite the largely undefined and complex process ahead, the Department of Education is still reviewing and processing debt relief applications. These three dates should be on your radar, including two before the end of this year.

Important Dates to Know for Student Loan Forgiveness

Experts say borrowers should fill out their applications sooner rather than later. The Department of Education recommends applying by Nov. 15 because it’ll take four to six weeks for relief to be applied to your balance, and you’ll want your balance reduced or eliminated by the time the payment pause resumes in January.

Most of the 45 million student loan borrowers will need to fill out an application to see if they qualify for student loan forgiveness. That’s because the Department of Education only has income information for 8 million borrowers who enrolled in income-driven repaying plans or recently filled out a FAFSA.

There could be more delays to the plan if it continues to be challenged in court, but for now, these are three important dates to remember in the coming weeks and months:

Nov. 15, 2022

Individuals who make less than $125,000 annually and married couples or head of household who makes less than $250,000 combined can qualify for forgiveness. Anyone who borrowed money under the Pell Grant program, which mainly targets low-income students and families, can qualify for up to $20,000 in debt relief. Once you submit your application, you can expect relief within 4-6 weeks if approved. The Department of Education recommends filling out the application before Nov. 15 to receive forgiveness before payments resume in January. 

Jan. 1, 2023

The Biden administration extended the pause a final time through Dec. 31. Federal student loan payments will resume at the start of next year.

Dec. 31, 2023

The Department of Education said the application for student loan forgiveness will remain open through the end of next year, but you may not receive relief before the payment pause period ends if you don’t fill it out before mid-November. 

Answering Your Student Loan Questions

Do you have questions about student loan forgiveness? Check out our FAQ, which we’re regularly updating as more details become available. If there are any questions we didn’t answer about Biden’s new student loan plan in the FAQ, email me at alex@nextadvisor.com and I’ll do my best to answer it.

What Should Student Loan Borrowers Do in the Meantime?

While borrowers wait for more guidance from the Biden administration or the Department of Education, the most important thing they can do for now is apply for forgiveness. Check that your contact information — like home address, email address, and phone number — is up to date with their loan servicer. That way, you can get the latest information on student loan forgiveness and how it’ll affect your balance or monthly payments. You can see who exactly your student loan provider is on studentaid.gov, and you can sign up to receive email updates on loan forgiveness. 

In the coming months, experts recommend that you continue to take advantage of the pause on federal loans through the end of the year. Use this time to prioritize other important aspects of your finances, like building an emergency fund, paying down high-interest debt, or investing in a traditional retirement plan. Those are areas where you can make your money go further right now. 

“With the federal government’s forgiveness of up to $20,000 in student debt, newly minted graduates and older borrowers now can sock away that extra money for the future, ”says Rob Michel, chief investment officer of wealth management firm Glen Eagle Advisors. “Re-integrate the loan payments into their normal spending habits or invest some or all of those payments to build their personal wealth.”