The Biden administration is previewing the form that millions of Americans will soon be able to use to apply for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness, although the application isn’t yet available online.
The Department of Education on Tuesday provided an early look at the form, along with more details about what student debt holders will need to fill out the application. The overall goal is to provide a form that is “short and simple,” an administration official said on a call with reporters.
The loan forgiveness application will open later in October, although officials didn’t disclose the exact day when the form will go live. About 95% of Americans with student debt are expected to qualify for loan relief, while the remainder earn too money to qualify for the program. People will need their Social Security number to complete the application, but won’t need to supply their Federal Student Aid ID or upload any documents, officials said.
The Education Department also shared screenshots of the form on its Twitter feed to provide borrowers with information about what they’ll need to complete the application.
Borrowers who received Pell Grants, which are for low- and middle-income families, can get as much as $20,000 in debt forgiven, while other borrowers can get relief of up to $10,000.
Here’s what we know so far.
How long is the application?
The application is short, with two sections that should only take a few minutes to fill out.
- The first section requires you to provide basic information about yourself, including name, date of birth, email and Social Security number.
- The second section is an “attestation” that you qualify for the loan forgiveness, such as that your income falls below the cutoff for eligibility.
Only individuals who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples with total annual income below $250,000 are eligible for loan relief under the program.
When and where will the application be available?
Biden administration officials didn’t say when the form will go live, but said it will be available online in desktop and mobile versions. The best places to check for the application are the Education Department’s website or the Federal Student Aid website, they said. The form will be available in both English and Spanish.
Do I need to upload tax forms?
No. The application doesn’t require borrowers to upload tax forms or any other documentation.
However, administration officials said there may be cases where some applicants are required to provide more documentation to confirm they are eligible. For instance, borrowers who “are more likely to exceed the income cutoff” may have to provide tax returns or other documents to confirm their income meets the eligibility requirements, an official said.
Likewise, borrowers who don’t file taxes may have to provide proof of non-filing.
What happens if I claim to be eligible when I’m not?
The attestation section of the form requires applicants to confirm that they are eligible “under penalty of perjury.” In signing the attestation, applicants are verifying that they earn under the income thresholds set by the program and that they are the person applying for loan relief.
People who claim to qualify for loan forgiveness but actually earn over the income limits could face fines and other problems, administration officials said.
“All borrowers who apply will have to attest under penalty of perjury, which is enforceable with hefty fines and jail time,” one official said on the call with reporters.
What about legal challenges to the debt-relief program?
Several lawsuits have been filed seeking to block the student debt-relief program, with a judge expected to rule soon on a challenge filed by six GOP-led states. Experts say these challenges delay, or even derail, the government’s loan forgiveness program.
Asked about the lawsuits, a Biden administration official said they are “moving full steam ahead,” adding, “We’re not getting sidetracked.” But the official offered no specifics on the lawsuits or the Biden administration’s response.