Borrowers anxiously awaiting the federal student loan relief application say the beta version that was released this weekend couldn’t have been simpler.
“It was a real quick and easy process,” says Glenn Gallimore, a 42-year-old living in Arizona with just over $21,000 in student loans left to repay. He estimates it took about two minutes to fill out.
The Biden administration released a test version of its long-awaited federal student loan forgiveness application Friday night. It requires a borrower’s full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and attestation that they meet the income requirements set by Biden’s administration.
The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) says the test applications will help smooth out the process when the official form goes live. Those who submit a beta application will not need to resubmit later.
The application will be available on and off during the beta period, according to FSA. “If you try and it’s not available, try again later or wait until the application is available to all borrowers,” the FSA site reads. “Don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to apply right now. There’s no advantage to applying before the full launch.”
After applying, borrowers will receive a confirmation with additional details on what they can expect about the next steps in the process. The U.S. Department of Education says that borrowers who need to take additional action—such as providing income verification—will hear from the department or their loan servicer. Otherwise, they won’t need to do anything else but wait for the administration to process the forgiveness applications.
“We’ll notify you when your application has been approved and sent to your loan servicer to process your debt relief,” the email reads. “Your loan servicer will notify you when your debt relief has been applied and will share any additional information.”
Some borrowers have worried about student loan forgiveness happening at all, given the delay between the announcement of the relief program, which was made at the end of August, and the application launch.
Ami Patel, 30, says filling out the test application went much smoother than she thought it would.
"I’m very happy that we have the chance to get student loan debt forgiveness," says the Georgia resident, who has around $43,000 in student loan debt. "I would have just been happy with interest rates staying zero, so potentially getting up to $20,000 [forgiven] would be—not to be dramatic—life-changing."
That said, multiple lawsuits from conservative and libertarian groups are already slowing down the forgiveness process. While the Department of Education originally said the forgiveness application would be available in "early October," it has now promised a federal court that no debt will be canceled before Oct. 23.
"I'm glad this administration is really sticking to their promise," says Gallimore. "It's just sad that when the working class can get a break, some of the talking heads try to spin it as something unjust."
There is no word yet on when the official application will launch. The FSA site says it will be available "later in October 2022," and borrowers should "check back soon." It will be open through Dec. 31, 2023.
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