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When Is the Deadline to Apply for Student Debt Forgiveness?

More than 8 million people have applied for student debt relief since the Education Department’s site went live late Friday night, according to US President Joe Biden.

The application is “easy, simple and fast,” Biden told reporters at a briefing Monday. 

The White House said in court documents that the earliest it will start to erase debt is Oct. 23. But if you’re among the 45 million Americans eligible for up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness — or $20,000 if you received a Pell Grant — you can start the online application process now. 

What’s the deadline to file for student loan forgiveness?

Borrowers have until Dec. 31, 2023, to submit an application for student debt relief. The White House is encouraging individuals to submit forms before mid-November, though, so they can be processed before student loan payments and interest resume on Jan. 1, 2023.

What do I need to fill out the federal student loan debt relief application?

The online form takes only a few minutes to complete: All you need to do is enter your name, birth date, Social Security number, email address and phone number, and then e-sign a statement indicating that you’re eligible for relief.

Though the relief program is available only to borrowers making less than $150,000 — or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly — you don’t need to upload documents certifying your income.

Do all borrowers need to file an application to be considered for student debt relief?

Borrowers whose income data is already on file with the federal government don’t need to file an application. They’ll automatically have up to $20,000 in student loans forgiven, according to the White House.It’s estimated that up to 8 million Americans fall into that category, most notably individuals who filed a FAFSA, or Free Application for Student Aid, for the 2022-23 school year and people enrolled in income-driven repayment programs that allow them to make fixed monthly payments.

Borrowers who fall into this category will receive an email or text notification explaining their status, according to the Education Department.  But even if your debt is being wiped out automatically, many experts advise filling out the form anyway. “With any new government program, there is a risk of glitches, so it is best to apply just in case,” student-loan expert Mark Kantrowitz told CNBC.

In addition, filing out the form will get your request processed faster, as automatic forgiveness won’t be processed until after Nov. 14, 2022, the deadline to opt out of it.

According to the Federal Student Aid website, “if you would like to opt out of debt relief for any reason — including because you are concerned about a potential state tax liability — contact your loan servicer by phone or email and tell them.”You can find contact info for the major student loan servicers here.

Are all borrowers eligible for debt forgiveness?

No. In addition to establishing income caps, the program excludes private student loans — including federal loans owned by private banks, unless they’ve already been consolidated through the government’s direct lending program.

Borrowers with loans administered through the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan program or who have Perkins loans aren’t eligible for debt forgiveness at this time.

This change in guidance, which reverses eligibility for roughly 770,000 borrowers, was announced in late September shortly after a half-dozen Republican-led states filed a legal challenge to the forgiveness plan. 

“We are working on pathways to support those [borrowers],” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in Monday’s briefing. “But we’re moving as quickly as possible to provide relief to as many people as possible.”

For more about student loan debt relief, learn whether your forgiveness will be taxed by your state, how erasing student debt could impact your credit score and how to request a refund of loan payments made during the pandemic.

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