WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday officially kicked off the application process for his student debt cancellation program, opening the door for millions of Americans to apply for up to $20,000 in forgiveness. The Biden administration touts it as a simple, straightforward application that should only take about five minutes. Here’s how to apply.
Go to studentaid.gov and in the section on student debt relief, click “Apply Now.”
Be ready to type in some basic personal information. The form asks for: name, Social Security Number, date of birth, phone number and email address. It does not require documentation about your income or your student loans.
Next, review the eligibility rules and confirm that you’re a match. For most people, that means attesting that they make less than $125,000 a year or that their household makes less than $250,000 a year. If you meet the eligibility rules, click the box confirming that everything you provided is true.
After the form is submitted, the Biden administration says it should take four to six weeks to process. The Education Department will use its existing records to make sure your loans are eligible and to look for applicants who might exceed the income limits. Some will be asked to provide additional documentation to prove their incomes. The Education Department estimates that the verification application will take about half an hour, including time to review and upload tax documents.
Most borrowers who apply before mid-November should expect to get their student debt canceled before Jan. 1, when payments on federal student loans are scheduled to restart after a pause during the pandemic.
Things could get more complicated, depending on the outcomes of several legal challenges. The Biden administration faces a growing number of lawsuits attempting to block the student debt program, including one filed by six Republican-led states. A federal judge in St. Louis is currently weighing the states’ request for an injunction to halt the plan. Biden on Monday said he’s confident that the suit will not upend the plan. “Our legal judgment is that it won’t,” he said, “but they’re trying to stop it.”