Posted October 18, 20224:45 pm
By: Catherine Ross
CLEVELAND — Close to 20 million Americans can now apply for loan forgiveness. The U.S. Department of Education is accepting its first applications for student debt relief.
“Virtually 90 to 95% of borrowers with federal student loans can apply right now,” explained Josh Rovenger, a senior attorney for the Economic Justice Group at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
In August, the Biden administration announced a decision to at least partially cancel federal student loan balances for eligible borrowers.
A beta version of the student loan forgiveness application went live Friday, opening up a 14-month window to apply for debt relief.
If you had a federal loan balance prior to June 30, 2022, you may be eligible for forgiveness. Borrowers must also have an adjusted gross income under $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples who file joint taxes.
HOW MUCH DEBT WILL BE FORGIVEN?
Students who received a Pell Grant will be eligible for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness. Others who meet income requirements could see up to $10,000 forgiven.
If you made student loan payments during the federal payment pause and your balance is now below the forgiveness you’re qualified to receive, you may be able to receive a refund up to the remaining amount of your eligible debt relief.
HOW DO YOU APPLY?
You can apply through the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website, https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application, through December 31, 2023.
The form requests your name, contact information and social security number.
“The application process is super simple. It takes less than 5 minutes,” said Rovenger.
He explained most applicants won’t need to take further action. You’ll receive an email or phone call requesting more documentation if necessary.
For those who can’t apply online, the Department of Education says it will soon make a paper version available.
WHEN CAN YOU EXPECT LOAN FORGIVENESS?
Rovenger said the applications will be processed within 6-8 weeks. If you apply during the beta phase, your application will be processed when the program officially launches later in October.
Because the federal student loan payment pause is scheduled to end in January, Rovenger recommends applying early to avoid missing out.
“Borrowers who are eligible for this cancellation should actually be applying right now, so that they can get the cancellation before repayment starts in January,” he said. “The Department of Education has said that if borrowers applied by mid-November — around November 15 or so — they'll be able to process the application in time to apply the cancellation before repayment starts.”
WILL THE DEBT RELIEF BE TAXED?
Forgiven student loans will be exempt from federal income tax because of a provision in the American Rescue Plan. Some states may elect to impose taxes on the canceled debt, though the Ohio Department of Taxation has said it will not be considered taxable income.
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is offering a webinar about student loan cancellation at 1 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 19. You can find details about registration for the free event here. It’s also hosting a Facebook Live on the topic at 12:30 pm on November 3.
You can find answers to more FAQs on the organization’s web page by clicking here.
More resources are also available U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid website here.
Original story available on News 5 Cleveland: Student loan forgiveness applications now open; here's what you need to know