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The student loan forgiveness application is now live — here's how to fill it out

Borrowers can now apply for federal student loan relief: here's how to get up to $20,000 forgiven

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For student loan borrowers, relief is finally here – on Oct. 17, the Department of Education launched its student loan forgiveness application. The application comes just months after Biden announced that borrowers who have federal student loans will be eligible for up to $20,000 worth of forgiveness.

Borrowers will have until Dec. 31, 2023 to complete their application, but fortunately the current application process can be completed in minutes.

Below, Select looks at who is eligible for forgiveness and how they can apply.

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Who is eligible for student loan forgiveness?

Only borrowers who hold federal student loans and meet certain income requirement can qualify for forgiveness.

In 2020 or 2021, single-earners must have made less than $125,000, and for households, less than $250,000. Note that you only need to meet the income requirements for either 2020 or 2021, not for both years. The requirements are based on your adjusted gross income (AGI), not your total income. Your AGI is often lower than your total income, and you can find it on your most recent tax return.

If you're a Pell Grant recipient who meets the income requirements, you can have up to $20,000 forgiven. Everyone else who meets the income requirements can have up to $10,000 forgiven. It's estimated that 43 million of the total 45 million federal student loan borrowers will qualify for some type of relief.

Federal student loan funds received before June 30, 2022 are eligible for forgiveness.

How to apply for student loan forgiveness

The application to apply for student loan forgiveness is short and straightforward. In order to apply, first go to the official application:

To apply online, you'll need to provide your full name, Social Security number, date of birth and email. While you do not need to enter your AGI in the application, only people who meet the income thresholds can apply. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only some applicants will be contacted and required to provide proof of income.

If you cannot apply online, the Department of Education claims that a paper application will be available soon. You can find an FAQ on the website too.

While the official application for forgiveness launched on Monday, eight million borrowers completed the beta version of the application this weekend, according to Biden. Those who completed the beta application do not need to resubmit the application and will be considered 'first in line' to receive forgiveness.

And some people may not need to submit an application for relief. Nearly eight million borrowers will automatically receive forgiveness because their income data is already on file with the Department of Education. These borrowers can also opt out of receiving relief.

How long will it take for student debt to be forgiven?

It will take four to six weeks after you submit your application for it to be reflected in your loan balance. Your loan servicer will notify you when it does. If you want relief before student payments resume on January 1, you should submit your application before November 15.

Federal student loan payments were paused throughout the pandemic by both the Biden and Trump administrations. Payments are now set to resume on Jan. 1, 2023. If you continued to make payments during the pandemic, you can actually ask your loan servicer for a refund and then apply for student loan forgiveness to have your debt wiped away.

If you've been paying your federal student loans during the pandemic, here's how to get a refund

What if you have private student loans?

Unfortunately, private student loans are not eligible for forgiveness. If you do have private student loans and want to save, it may worth looking into refinancing, which can qualify you for better repayment terms, including a lower interest rate.

Note that if you have federal student loans and want to refinance them to get a lower rate, you'll also lose any federal protections. Select ranked the following as some of the best student loan refinancing companies:

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing

  • Cost

    No origination fees to refinance

  • Eligible loans

    Federal, private, graduate and undergraduate loans, Parent PLUS loans, medical and dental residency/fellowship loans, plus special pricing and reduced rates for health-care professionals (physicians, dentists, optometrists and physician assistants)

  • Loan types

    Variable and fixed

  • Variable rates (APR)

    From 5.49%

  • Fixed rates (APR)

    From 5.44%

  • Loan terms

    5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years (but also offers any term below 20 years, subject to underwriting criteria)

  • Loan amounts

    For bachelor's degrees and higher, minimum $5,000; for eligible associate degrees in the health-care field, up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans

  • Minimum credit score

    N/A

  • Minimum income

    N/A

  • Allow for a co-signer

    Yes

Terms apply.

SoFi

  • Eligible borrowers

    Undergraduate and graduate students, parents, health professionals

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 minimum (or up to state); maximum up to cost of attendance

  • Loan terms

    Range from 5 to 15 years; up to 20 years for refinancing loans

  • Loan types

    Variable and fixed

  • Co-signer required?

    No

  • Offer student loan refinancing?

    Yes - click here for details

Terms apply.

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing

  • Cost

    No origination fees to refinance

  • Eligible loans

    Federal, private, graduate and undergraduate loans, Parent PLUS loans

  • Loan types

    Variable and fixed

  • Variable rates (APR)

    From 5.28%

  • Fixed rates (APR)

    From 5.48%

  • Loan terms

    From 5 to 20 years for student loan refinancing; 5, 7 or 10 years for parent loan refinancing

  • Loan amounts

    From $10,000

  • Minimum credit score

    N/A

  • Minimum income

    N/A

  • Allow for a co-signer

    Yes

Terms apply.

Bottom line

For federal student loan borrowers, debt relief could be imminent. After borrowers fill out a simple application on the Department of Education website, it will take four to six weeks for relief to show up on people's accounts. Borrowers will have until Dec. 31, 2023 to apply and if they do so before November 15, 2022, it will be reflected in their balances before monthly student loan payments resume January 1.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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