The Biden administration has said people will be able to apply for the debt relief program in early October.
WASHINGTON — Millions of Americans will soon be able to apply for student loan forgiveness — up to $10,000, or $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The Biden administration has said the apps will be available in October, but in the meantime, you can start preparing.
RELATED: No Student Debt Relief Until Oct. 23, White House Says
What can you do now to prepare for your student loan forgiveness?
WHAT WE FOUND:
For people who have been calling for student debt relief for a long time, it can’t happen soon enough. Here is what you need to know to submit your application as soon as possible.
RELATED: Highlights on How Student Debt Relief Will Be Applied to Borrowers With Multiple Loans
First, make sure you are qualified for forgiveness. That means, in 2020 or 2021, earning less than $125,000 per year as an individual, or $250,000 for a household, with loans held by the Department of Education (DOE). This also includes PLUS loans for graduates and parents. Private loans are currently not included in the forgiveness program.
You can find out what kind of loans you have by logging in to StudentAid.gov. While you’re at it, update your profile, in case the Department of Education needs to contact you.
RELATED: Yes, Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Change Excludes Some Borrowers From Relief
“You want to make sure all of your contact information, including your email, address, mailing address and phone number, is current and up-to-date,” said Jennifer Finnetti with ScholarshipOwl.
But if someone calls you offering help to ask for forgiveness, Melissa Byrnestudent loan cancellation advocate, says, hang up.
“It’s a scam,” Byrne said. “And you should never, ever pay anyone for help getting your student loans forgiven. It’s a free service.”
The Biden administration has said the application will be simple. The Ministry of Education notes online: candidates won’t need to upload documents or have an FSA ID. Eligible borrowers already on an income-based repayment plan – around 8 million people – will automatically qualify, unless they opt out.
RELATED: Small Business Group Files Lawsuit Against Biden’s Student Loan Plan
Once opened, the application will be available until the end of next year. The DOE expects applications will take approximately six weeks to process, which will be on a rolling basis.
Since the student loan payment break expires at the end of this year, the Ministry of Education encourages people to apply for relief before mid-November.
“I would say generally to everyone right now, just to make sure you turn off all your direct debits so there’s no chaos when the loans come back on in December in January,” Byrne said.
You can also sign up for notifications directly from the Department of Education, so you’ll know as soon as the apps are available.