Do you have federal student loans? Then you might have some forms to file this October. My name is Carrie Sorenson and I am an Accredited Financial Counselor who writes for Breathing Room (although I usually write about physical activity and health topics). I wanted to share this important information to make sure you can take advantage of these programs if you qualify.
There are two main programs you will want to pay attention to:
- Federal Student Loan Debt Relief
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Both of these programs have important things happening this month and you’ll want to pay attention to make sure you don’t miss out. Here are the important details about both programs:
Federal Student Loan Debt Relief
In August, the Biden Administration announced that they would forgive up to $20,000 for some federal student loan borrowers. Over the weekend, the Department of Education announced that the application is live! You can find it here: https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application
The application is available in English and Spanish, is very brief, and only asks you to provide some basic information about yourself like your name, social security number, date of birth, and contact information (it WILL NOT ask for your FAFSA ID). It also asks you to self-certify that you meet the income guidelines. In order to qualify, you must have income that is under $125,000 for an individual or under $250,000 for people who are married and file taxes jointly or with one person listed as head of household. If you are unsure, go back to your 2020 and 2021 tax returns. If your income was under the limit for at least one of those years, then you qualify for the forgiveness. You may be asked to provide proof of income in the future, but not at the time you submit the application.
You have until December 31st, 2023 to complete the application.
On a personal note, my husband and I both have student loans and completed our forgiveness applications this weekend. We were impressed with how simple and easy the application process was!
One note of warning, be careful of scams! Filing for forgiveness is free and the Department of Education will never ask you for any money in order to process your application. If someone is asking you to pay to file the application, that person is trying to scam you.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This program is for people who are working in public service (typically for a nonprofit, the military, or in federal, state, tribal, or local government). Under this program, your remaining loan balance is forgiven after you make 120 qualifying payments. This is usually 10 years or more of payments and often makes sense for people who are making payments under an income driven repayment plan.
Initially, the program required specific documentation and had strict rules that made it difficult for many to achieve loan forgiveness under the program. However, recently a waiver was passed that makes it significantly easier for borrowers to make qualifying payments and have their loans forgiven.
In order to take advantage of this waiver, you must complete an application before the October 31st deadline! So, if you think you might be able to take advantage of this program, you can visit https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service. There, you can check to make sure you qualify and apply for forgiveness.
If you have questions about your specific student loan situation, check out https://studentaid.gov/ for additional resources on a variety of topics!