Biden announced that applications for student loan forgiveness are now available

President Joe Biden announced Monday that the federal application for Americans seeking student loan forgiveness is now open for business. It’s the latest step in his plan to help as many as 43 million people get out of debt.

“Today, I’m announcing that millions of working and middle-class people can apply for and receive this relief.” And it’s simple and it’s now. It’s easy,” Biden said in comments from the White House alongside Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

“This is a game-changer for millions of Americans … and it took an incredible amount of effort to make this website happen in such a short amount of time.” People who want to apply for help with their student loans can now fill out the Studentaid form .gov in English or Spanish.

The form has information about who can get debt relief and how it works. It asks applicants for their full names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses, among other things. Borrowers can send application to December 31, 2023.

Biden said in August that he would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for people making less than $125,000 a year, or up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers who also received Pell Grants.

Those who want to borrow must have federal student loans. In addition to federal direct loans used to pay for a bachelor’s degree, federal PLUS loans taken out by graduate students and parents may also be eligible as long as the borrower meets income requirements.

Applicants who are “more likely to exceed the income limit” will have to submit additional documentation, such as a tax return, according to the Biden administration. And while borrowers won’t have to pay federal income tax on the amount of their student loan debt that is forgiven, some may have to pay state income tax on that amount.

The Department of Education also said it now knows the incomes of almost 8 million borrowers. This is likely because borrowers have filled out financial aid forms or applied for an income-based repayment plan in the past.

If these borrowers meet the income requirements, they will automatically receive debt relief unless they choose to opt out. The department says it will email borrowers who may be eligible for debt relief but do not need to apply.

When the app is officially released, it will be the next step in a highly technical project that federal agencies and student loan servicers are working on to help tens of millions of borrowers.

On Friday night, a beta version of the website went live, and Biden said it was finished 8 million Americans have filled out their applications on the website over the weekend.

The president credited a “talented group of federal government data scientists and engineers” who “built, tested and launched this new application in just weeks.” Biden said that during the few days of beta testing, the website has “handled more than 8 million applications without issue or difficulty.”

“As millions of people apply, we’ll make sure the system continues to run as smoothly as possible so we can provide student loan relief to millions of Americans as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he added.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Education over its student loan forgiveness policy. After hearing a request for a preliminary injunction last week, a U.S. district judge may soon decide whether to temporarily halt the program from taking effect. This can delay the discharge of student loans until the judge makes a final decision on the case.

At the end of his speech, Biden was asked about lawsuits that could conflict with the plan. He said he thinks the plan will hold up in court. Joe Biden also went after Republicans who opposed his plan to help students pay off their debt. He said their anger was “misguided” and “hypocritical.”

“I will never apologize for helping working and middle-class Americans as they recover from the pandemic. Especially not the same Republicans who voted for $2 trillion in tax cuts under the last administration, benefiting mainly the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations and not paying a dime of it and running up the deficit,” he added.

Borrowers whose federal student loans are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders are not currently eligible. Many of these loans were made through the former Federal Family Education Loan Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program. Borrowers who wish to consolidate their loans into direct loans must do so by September 29.

The Department of Education said initially that these private loans would be eligible for the one-time forgiveness action. In September, however, six Republican-led states sued the Biden administration, saying the private loan forgiveness would hurt state finances and student loan servicers.

CNN asked Cardona about the fact that people with private loans can’t get mass relief. In response, Cardona said the government was “acting as quickly as possible to provide relief to as many people as possible.”

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