By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor
The application portal for the federal government’s student-loan forgiveness program was opened Friday. Visiting the website, https://studentaid.gov, is the first step to determine eligibility for the loan program.
The application, known as a beta-testing form, is open for borrowers to check their eligibility. The brief digital form requests only the following information: name and prior last name used if applicable, Social Security Number, birthdate, email address, cell phone number, and verification or a signature for providing accurate information. The form is accessible through a computer or cell phone and available in English and Spanish.
Those who have created an online account through the studentaid.gov website should receive an email or text notification now that the application is available online. The deadline to apply for student-debt forgiveness is Dec. 31, 2023. Borrowers are encouraged to apply for the relief before the COVID-19 pandemic, student loan administrative forbearance deadline of Dec. 31, 2022.
In August, the president’s administration announced student debt relief for low- and middle-income families across the country. As part of the student loan forgiveness program, up to $20,000 in debt relief is available for qualifying borrowers who received Federal Pell Grants and up to $10,000 in relief for those who did not receive a federal Pell Grant to attend school.
The relief program is only available to those who received student loans and grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Borrowers whose annual individual income was less than $125,000 (individual or married, filing separately) or $250,000 for households (married, filing jointly or head of household) in 2021 or 2020 are eligible for the debt relief.
The Department is warning people of potential scams that may arise in the loan-forgiveness process. Scams involve companies contacting people offering to get them a loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for a fee. There are no fees associated with the government’s debt-relief program. Emails to borrowers will come from [email protected].
Any current or former student who received a Federal Pell Grant is eligible to receive the $20,000 in federal debt relief. The additional $10,000 granted to Pell Grant recipients will be applied to eligible loans, such as undergraduate, graduate or parent loans. If a dependent student received a Pell Grant, up to $20,000 in debt relief will be applied to the student’s loan and not loans taken out by parents.
The Department of Education is assessing whether to provide relief to borrowers with privately-owned, federal student loans, including FFEL and Perkins Loans, and is discussing this with private lenders. In the meantime, borrowers with privately-held federal student loans can receive this relief by consolidating these loans into the Direct Loan program. FFEL Joint Consolidation Loans, often
referred to as spousal consolidation loans, are not eligible for consolidation into the Direct Loan program under current law.
One-time student loan debt relief will not be subject to federal income taxes. State and local tax implications will vary.