President Biden on Monday spoke on his new student loan forgiveness plan, urging borrowers to apply as the newly-launched application moves from beta testing to full availability.
Here’s the latest.
Who Qualifies for Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
Under Biden’s one-time loan cancellation initiative first announced in August, millions of student loan borrowers may be able to receive $10,000 or more in student loan forgiveness for their government-held federal student loans. This includes all Direct loans (including Stafford, PLUS loans, and Consolidation loans) and some (but not all) FFELP loans. Borrowers who received Pell Grants can get even more in loan forgiveness — up to $20,000.
To qualify, borrowers must have earned under $125,000 in income (or less than $250,000 if they are married) in either 2020 or 2021.
“Working people, the middle class” will benefit the most from the student loan forgiveness initiative, said President Biden in remarks on Monday. “More than 40 million Americans” will get student loan forgiveness through the program.
“Ninety percent of that relief will go to people making less than $75,000 per year,” said Biden. “Not a dime will go to those making in the top 5 percent” of earners.
Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also indicated that the administration is exploring options for borrowers with privately-held FFELP loans to qualify again, after the Education Department abruptly announced that these loans would be excluded from relief last month.
Student Loan Forgiveness Application is Now Fully Available
The Education Department has now fully launched the application for student loan forgiveness. Officials had initiated a “beta launch” of the application on Friday, but the application is now fully functional and available for all eligible borrowers to apply. It can be accessed here. Education Secretary Cardona said nearly eight million borrowers have already applied during the beta launch.
The online application is simple, and only should take a minute or two to complete. Borrowers will simply have to enter basic contact information and personal details, and must certify that they meet the income guidelines. Borrowers will not have to log in or submit any supporting documentation. They will get confirmation of submission (which borrowers should retain for their records).
The Education Department previously said that it will follow up with a percentage of borrowers for additional information and supporting documentation over the next year or so, so borrowers should be prepared to provide proof of income upon request.
Student Loan Forgiveness Initiative Faces Legal Challenges
Biden acknowledged on Monday that the initiative is facing numerous legal challenges.
“Republicans [are] doing everything they can do to deny relief to their own constituents,” said Biden, calling Republican officials “hypocritical” for opposing his plan while supporting a $2 trillion tax cut for “wealthy Americans and corporations.”
While several lawsuits have been dismissed, several more are pending, including one brought by a coalition of Republican-led states. If any one of these suits are successful, it could lead to delays if a court issues an injunction blocking the program. A key preliminary hearing for one such challenge was held last week, and a ruling could arrive as early as this week.
Biden Confirms Student Loan Pause Ends In December
In his remarks today, President Biden also confirmed that the extension of the ongoing payment pause to December 31 would be the final such extension, and borrowers should anticipate a return to repayment in January.
“Come January, folks have to start to repay their student loans,” said Biden. The Biden administration has been touting the end of the payment pause as an economic counterbalance to the student loan forgiveness plan, as “billions of dollars per year will start coming into the U.S. Treasury” when payments resume.
Biden promised borrowers a “smooth transition” to repayment in January.