On August 24, President Joe Biden announced his intention to follow through on a campaign promise of eliminating $10,000 of federal student loan debt for American borrowers. It followed almost two years of consideration from the Biden White House, with progressive Democrats urging the president to wipe all student loan debt entirely.
While the president has confirmed that he plans to eliminate a portion of borrowers’ student loan debt, many have been left wondering when the forgiveness will occur and what steps they need to take to ensure that they receive it.
Student Loan Forgiveness: Who Qualifies, and For How Much?
President Biden’s forgiveness program applies to all borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year, or married couples earning less than $250,000 per year. To determine whether you qualify for loan forgiveness, check your 2020 and 2021 tax returns for your adjusted gross income, which is your income minus any legitimate expenses. You can find your adjusted gross income on line 11 of the front page of Form 1040, your tax return.
The forgiveness applies to all loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. It does not apply to private loans. For commercially held federal student loan borrowers, the scheme will also eventually be made available to you, according to a government spokesperson. A commercial student loan is a loan given by private lenders but guaranteed by the federal government. Those with these kinds of loans do not need to take any action quite yet.
Borrowers who did not receive a Pell Grant, which is a kind of aid designed to help low-income undergraduate students, will receive $10,000 in loan forgiveness. For those who did receive the grant, however, as much as $20,000 may be wiped under Biden’s confirmed plans.
If you don’t know whether you received a Pell Grant, you can log into your Student Aid account and determine what kind of aid you received during your university days. Log in to your account here, and then navigate to the “My Aid” section to see what you received and how much you borrowed.
How to Get Student Loan Relief
Roughly eight million eligible people are expected to receive relief automatically once the scheme comes into action later this year. Those whose income information is already available to the Department of Education will see $10,000 slashed from their debt.
For everybody else, an application system will be available in early October – in just a couple of weeks’ time. If you would like to be updated when the application system is available, you can sign up for notifications here.
The Department of Education says that those who complete an application can expect the relief to be processed within four to six weeks, and all borrowers curious about their status are advised to apply before November 15 to ensure that they receive the relief before the payment pause expires on December 31.
That being said, the Department of Education intends to continue processing applications even after December 31.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.