(NEXSTAR) — The application for federal student loan forgiveness has officially opened, President Joe Biden announced Monday following a beta test that launched Friday.
Roughly 8 million borrowers have already completed the debt forgiveness process by completing the beta application, Biden said. His administration launched it Friday afternoon, with a note that the Department of Education was “accepting applications to help us refine our processes ahead of the official form launch.”
If you are among those 8 million borrowers that completed the application over the weekend, you don’t need to do anything else. Your information will be processed, and, if necessary, officials will reach out to you for additional information.
If you haven’t yet applied, have no fear—the application is simple, fast, and identical to the preview the White House provided last week. You don’t need a Federal Student Aid login or any documentation to apply. Here is a step-by-step process for filling out the federal student loan forgiveness application:
- First, go to www.studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application
- Fill in your first name, last name, and if applicable, a former last name
- Then you’ll need to put in your Social Security number
- Re-type your Social Security number
- Enter your date of birth
- Enter your phone number
- Type in your email address
- Re-enter your email address
- Review the agreement (This acknowledges that you are the person completing the form requesting debt relief, that you qualify, and that you will submit additional information if necessary.)
- Then you will need to input your first and last name again
- Next, check the box noting that “under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that all of the information provided on this form is correct.” Penalties for providing false information are listed and include “fines, imprisonment, or both.”
- Finally, hit “submit”
The application, found here, is available in both English and Spanish and on mobile and desktop devices. After your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed to determine if you qualify for debt relief, and the Education Department will “work with your loan servicer(s) to process your relief.”
An estimated 1 million to 5 million people will be required to provide that extra documentation, the Education Department said in a recent submission to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. It’s unclear how long it will take for the Education Department to process the applications but officials previously estimated a timeline of four to six weeks. Applications submitted by mid-November should be processed by January 1, which is when payments are set to resume. You’ll have until the end of 2023 to apply for federal debt relief, pending the legal challenges the Biden administration is facing over the program.
Six Republican-led states are suing to block the plan, saying it oversteps Biden’s authority and will lead to financial losses for student loan servicers, which are hired to manage federal student loans and earn revenue on the interest. A federal judge in St. Louis is now weighing the states’ request for an injunction to halt the plan. In court documents, the Education Department has vowed not to finalize any of the debt cancelations before October 23.
Biden promised to pursue widespread student debt forgiveness as a presidential candidate, but the issue went through more than a year of internal deliberation amid questions about its legality. His plan sparked intense debate ahead of the midterm elections, with Republicans and some Democrats saying it’s an unfair handout for college graduates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.