- BREAKING: The Biden administration stopped accepting applications for student loan forgiveness on Friday after a federal judge in Texas struck down the plan on Thursday.
- What Borrowers Need to Know After the Biden Administration Closed Its Student Loan Forgiveness Application
Whatever happens with the current legal challenges to student loan debt forgiveness, you should submit your application before Nov. 15 to receive up to $20,000 of relief before payments resume next year.
Borrowers technically have until the end of 2023 to file for forgiveness, but experts say applying sooner could lower your loan payments or erase your balance all together, putting you in a financially better position come January. The Biden administration is urging borrowers to apply by the Nov. 15 deadline, too.
(Click the image below to sign up for our student loan forgiveness webinar on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. EST. Senior reporter Alex Gailey and student loan expert Robert Farrington will go over Biden’s relief plan, where it stands legally — plus, answer questions)
Student loan expert Robert Farrington said the legal challenges surrounding loan forgiveness could continue for months, bringing potential stops and starts to the process. But if borrowers begin receiving debt relief, it will become much harder to reverse, he says.
“The urgency is simple: the administration wants to forgive as much debt as possible as quickly as possible,” said Farrington, the founder of The College Investor, an online resource for student loans. “It’s really hard to put the cat back in the bag. Once forgiveness actually starts on loans, it would be very hard for anyone to stop it.”
President Joe Biden’s student loan relief has been held up in court for weeks following a series of lawsuits from Republican-led states and conservative groups. One of the lawsuits has successfully stalled the plan in federal court, and it’s unclear yet if the Biden administration will be able to grant mass student loan forgiveness to millions of borrowers as promised.
“The biggest challenge to student loans is the appeal at the 8th Circuit Court right now,” Farrington said. “They’ve been sitting on the case for two weeks, and nobody really knows why.”
Regardless of what happens in court, it’s worth carving a few minutes out of your day to apply for this one-time debt relief. The application is simple and it’s easy – here’s a step-by-guide on how to apply and what you should expect afterward:
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness
The application to apply for student loan forgiveness is short and straightforward. You don’t need to log in or provide any documents. Borrowers can get anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 of their student loans forgiven, depending on their loan types and if they meet the income requirements. Borrowers with Pell grants qualify for $20,000 in loan cancellation, whereas borrowers with other federal loans qualify for $10,000. To be eligible, individuals with federal student loans must make less than $125,000 per year, and married couples or heads of households must earn less than $250,000 annually.
Beware of student loan forgiveness scams
If you get a call or email from someone saying they will help you get debt relief for a fee, then it’s a scam. You never have to pay for help with your federal student aid. Check out this list of do’s and don’ts regarding student loan forgiveness scams, according to the Department of Education.
To apply, first go to the official application. Then, you’ll follow these steps:
1. Type in your name, Social Security number, date of birth, phone number, and email address, in that exact order.
2. Review your application by typing in your name once again, and check the box at the end to certify that you qualify for forgiveness.
3. Click “submit.”
What’s Next After You Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness?
After you submit your application, you’ll receive an email confirmation and the Department of Education will reach out to you if it needs you to provide proof of income. Expect a wait time of four to six weeks after you submit your application for it to be reflected in your loan balance, though it could be longer if Biden’s forgiveness plan continues to be held up in court. Your loan servicer will let you know if and when your balance is forgiven. For borrowers with several different loans, the Department of Education will apply relief in the following order:
- Defaulted Education Department-held loans
- Defaulted commercial FFEL Program loans
- Non-defaulted Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans held by the Education Department
- Perkins Loans held by the Education Department
For borrowers with multiple loans under the same loan category, the Department of Education will apply relief in the following order:
- Loans with the highest interest rate
- If interest rates are the same, unsubsidized loans will be forgiven before subsidized loans
- If the interest rate and subsidy status are the same, the most recent loans will be forgiven
- If interest rate, subsidy status, and disbursement date are the same, loans with the lowest combined principal and interest balance will be forgiven
While the forgiveness plan is on hold, there are plenty of things borrowers can do in the meantime to ease their financial situations. If you made student loan payments during the pandemic, experts recommend requesting a refund through your loan servicer if you haven’t yet — especially if you paid off your loans or your current balance is higher than the amount of debt relief you’ll receive.
The Department of Education will automatically refund the amount you paid during the payment pause only if your current loan balance is below the amount of debt relief you’ll receive. Let’s say you paid $1,000 toward your federal student loans during the payment pause. If you currently owe $9,500 and are eligible for $10,000 in relief, then $10,000 will be applied to your loan(s) and you’ll be automatically refunded $500.
Also, you should plan on payments resuming in 2023. The Biden administration said the latest extension of the student loan repayment pause is the final one to “ensure a smooth transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults.” Despite this, Farrington said he could see Biden extending the payment pause at least one more time due to the ongoing legal challenges.
Even if payments are delayed again, they will eventually start and it’s best to prepare ahead of time. It may be a good time to adjust your monthly payment expectations, revisit your budget, and make sure you feel financially comfortable to begin repayments. To get ahead, you could set aside a specific amount in a high-yield savings account with a competitive interest rate. That way, you’ll be able to collect interest on your savings until late December, and then pay a lump sum against your student loans.
- Jan. 1, 2023: Student loan payments resume
- Dec. 31, 2023: Student loan forgiveness application closes
Want to Learn More About Student Loan Forgiveness?
The recommended application deadline for student loan forgiveness is Nov. 15, and it’s important to get all your ducks in a row and take advantage of this one-time relief program — even if it is in legal limbo. Join us at 6 p.m. EST on Nov. 15 for a free webinar with student loan expert Robert Farrington to discuss Biden’s forgiveness plan. We’ll update you on what’s happening with the plan legally, and answer any questions you may have.