Check your email. The Department of Education is beginning to notify millions of federal student loan borrowers who qualify for automatic loan forgiveness.
The department started emailing certain borrowers Tuesday to let them know that they won’t need to apply to have up to $20,000 of federal debt forgiven. In total, some 8 million borrowers will automatically qualify for President Biden’s forgiveness plan without needing to fill out the student loan forgiveness application.
“You don’t need to take any action if you are interested in receiving federal student loan debt relief,” the email from the Education Department states. “We already have the information we need from you.”
The department will begin processing automatic debt forgiveness after Nov. 14, according to the email.
Who qualifies for automatic student loan forgiveness
The Education Department already has the necessary information to forgive the debt of approximately 8 million federal student loan borrowers. The core requirement to qualify for forgiveness is adjusted gross income, or AGI, for either 2020 or 2021. The income cap for single filers is $125,000, while the cap for joint filers is $250,000.
Still, best way for borrowers to know if they qualify for automatic forgiveness is to wait for confirmation directly from the Department of Education.
On the other hand, those who want to opt out of automatic student loan forgiveness must do so by Nov. 14, the department said. Some folks may choose to opt out to skirt paying state income taxes on their forgiveness. To opt out, the department said borrowers need to contact only one of their loan servicers to deny the forgiveness benefit.
Why you may want to apply anyway
Borrowers who qualify for automatic forgiveness but want the department to start processing forgiveness before Nov. 14 have the option to manually apply using the form on studentaid.gov. (Due to legal hurdles, the Education Department won’t begin processing forgiveness for anyone until Oct. 23 at the earliest.)
"It's easy, simple and fast," Biden said of the application process during a speech Monday, when he unveiled the official student loan forgiveness form.
The application requests only basic information such as name, date of birth, Social Security number and contact information. At the bottom, it asks applicants to self-certify that they meet the $125,000 or $250,000 income requirements.
"No forms to upload, no special login to remember," Biden said Monday.
Applicants who provide false information on the form face federal perjury charges.
One downside of such a simple forgiveness process is that scammers are out in full force. Government agencies, including the Education Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are on high alert.
On Monday, Biden said his administration will not be reaching out to people to help them with their applications or to request sensitive information.
"If you get a call pretending they're from the government trying to help you with your loans, let's be clear, hang up," Biden said.
Borrowers should verify any communication purportedly coming from the Education Department. The department said it will email folks only using the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.