Biden says student loan forgiveness applications are now officially open


President Joe Biden on Monday announced the official launch of the U.S. federal application for student loan forgiveness, the latest phase of his plan that is expected to provide debt relief to as many as 43 million borrowers.

“Today, I’m announcing that millions of workers and the middle class can apply for and receive this relief. It’s simple, and it’s now. It’s easy,” Biden said at the White House with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Speaking together. “It’s a game changer for millions of Americans… It took an incredible amount of effort to get this site done in such a short amount of time.”

Individuals seeking student debt relief can now complete the form at in English or Spanish. The form includes information about debt relief, who is eligible for debt relief, and how it works. It requires applicants to provide information, including their full names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. Borrowers must submit applications by December 31, 2023.

Biden announced in August his decision to cancel up to $10,000 of student loan debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 a year, or up to $20,000 for qualified borrowers who are also Pell Grant recipients.

Borrowers must have federally held student loans to be eligible. In addition to federal direct loans used to pay for an undergraduate degree, federal PLUS loans borrowed by graduate students and parents may also be eligible if the borrower meets income requirements.

The Biden administration said applicants “more likely to exceed the income threshold” would be required to submit additional information, such as tax records. While borrowers do not have to pay federal income tax on student loan debt relief, some borrowers may be required to pay state income tax on the amount of debt forgiven.

The Department of Education also said it has information on the income of nearly 8 million borrowers, possibly because of financial aid forms or previously submitted applications for income-driven repayment plans. If these borrowers meet income requirements, they will automatically receive debt relief unless they opt out. The department said it will email borrowers who will be considered for relief but do not need to apply.

The official launch of the app marks the next stage in a massive technology effort by federal agencies and student loan servicers to provide broad relief to tens of millions of borrowers. A beta version of the site launched Friday night, and Biden said more than 8 million Americans used the site to fill out applications over the weekend.

The president praised “a talented group of data scientists and engineers in the federal government” who “built, tested and launched this new application in just a few weeks.” Biden said that in days of beta testing the app, the site “processed more than 8 million apps with no glitches or difficulties.”

“If millions of people fill out applications, we’ll make sure the system continues to run as smoothly as possible so that we can deliver student loan relief to millions of Americans as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he added.

The Department of Education is facing several lawsuits challenging student loan forgiveness policies. A U.S. district judge may soon decide whether to temporarily block the plan from going into effect after hearing a motion for preliminary injunction last week. That could suspend student loan cancellations until a judge makes a final decision on the case.

Asked about the end of his remarks about the lawsuit challenging the plan, Biden said he thought the administration’s plan would be upheld in court. He also took aim at Republicans criticizing his student debt relief program, calling their outrage “wrong” and “hypocritical.”

“I will never apologise for helping America’s workers and middle class recover from the pandemic. Especially those Republicans who voted for $2 trillion in tax cuts in the last administration, primarily for the wealthiest Americans and the largest of companies benefited without paying a penny and instead increased the deficit,” he added.

Borrowers whose federal student loans are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders are currently excluded — unless the borrower applies to consolidate these loans into a direct loan on September 29.

The Department of Education initially said the privately held loans would be eligible for a one-time forgiveness action — but reversed course in September when six Republican-led states sued the Biden administration, arguing that the privately held loans would be forgiven. Loans hurt states and student loan servicers financially.

When CNN’s MJ Lee asked those with private loans not eligible for massive relief, Cardona said the government was “moving as quickly as possible to provide relief to as many people as possible.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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