Update: After a quick beta test, the Biden Administration announced the official launch of the loan forgiveness application on Monday.
Student loan borrowers can now apply for debt forgiveness, after the Biden Administration quietly unveiled a beta version of the loan forgiveness application last week.
On Friday evening, the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website began accepting applications for President Biden’s federal student loan forgiveness program as part of a beta test. The forgiveness program seeks to cancel as much as $20,000 of federal debt for individuals who earn less than $125,000.
“We're accepting applications to help us refine our processes ahead of the official form launch. If you submit an application, it will be processed, and you won't need to resubmit,” the FSA website now states.
In other words, completing the beta version of the application will put you in line for loan forgiveness and help the department work out kinks in the application. Borrowers who fill out the beta version will receive a confirmation email that their application was received, but it won't be processed until the program officially launches.
The Education Department plans to release a full application that largely resembles the beta version by the end of the month. However, the earliest the department will begin forgiving student loans is Oct. 23, according to a court document recently filed by the Biden Administration.
The administration is currently engulfed in legal battles over broad loan forgiveness. Most notably, Republican attorneys general in six states are challenging the constitutionality of Biden’s forgiveness in court. The lawsuit has the potential to further delay the timeline of loan forgiveness or tank the program entirely.
The legal challenges are not, however, stopping the administration from accepting applications.
What to expect on the student loan forgiveness application
The beta version of the application for loan forgiveness can be completed in only a few minutes and is available in English and Spanish.
The form requests only your name, Social Security number, date of birth, email address and phone number. You do not need to upload any documents.
At the bottom of the form, you must certify that you meet the program’s income requirements: earning $125,000 or less as an individual filer or $250,000 or less as a joint filer in either 2020 or 2021. These figures are based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI. The information you provide must be accurate or else you will face perjury charges.
Once completed, the Education Department will send you a confirmation email with additional information. If the department can’t verify your income information on its own, it may reach out asking you to provide documentation to prove your income.
Loan forgiveness isn't on a first-come, first-served basis, so there is no rush to fill out the application immediately. However, forgiveness may take between up to six weeks to process. Because of this, the administration has recommended that borrowers apply by mid November to ensure the loans are forgiven before payments restart in January 2023.
The official application, once released, is expected to remain open until Dec. 31, 2023.