Student loan forgiveness applications are now available through a beta-version website, according to the Biden administration

According to the Biden administration has begun accepting applications for Americans seeking student debt relief in a beta period beginning Friday evening, allowing applicants to begin signing up before the website is formally launched later this month.

President Joe Biden announced in August that he would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 per year, or up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers who were also Pell Grant recipients.

Biden-Harris Administration's student debt relief programme
Biden-Harris Administration’s student debt relief programme

“The Department of Education will begin beta testing the student debt relief website tonight,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education told exclusively Friday. “During the beta testing period, borrowers will be able to submit applications for the Biden-Harris Administration’s student debt relief programme.”

Anyone who applies for debt relief during the beta period will receive a confirmation email, but their application will not be processed until the site formally launches, which is expected before the end of October at a yet-to-be-announced date. Most qualifying borrowers are expected to receive debt relief within weeks of the start of processing.

“Those borrowers will not need to reapply if they submit their application during the beta test,” said the spokesperson, “but no applications will be processed until the site officially launches later this month.” The Department will be able to monitor site performance through real-world use during this testing period, test the site ahead of the official application launch, refine processes, and uncover any potential bugs prior to the official launch.”

Federal Family Education Loan programme
Federal Family Education Loan programme

Borrowers must have federally guaranteed student loans in order to qualify. Federal PLUS loans borrowed by graduate students and parents may be eligible in addition to federal Direct Loans used to pay for an undergraduate degree if the borrower meets the income requirements.

Borrowers whose federal student loans are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders, many of which were made under the former Federal Family Education Loan programme and Federal Perkins Loan programme, are currently excluded unless they applied to consolidate those loans into Direct loans by September 29.

Individuals earning less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, and married couples or heads of households earning less than $250,000 in those years, are eligible to have up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven.

Most qualifying borrowers are expected to receive debt relief within weeks of submitting an application once the website officially launches.

Officials stated that the “goal” is to begin processing debt relief prior to next January, when student loan payments will resume following a multi-year freeze due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Education regarding the student loan forgiveness policy. After hearing a motion for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday, a US district judge may soon decide whether to temporarily halt the program’s implementation. This could halt student loan cancellation until the judge rules on the case.

The Beta Version Of The Website
The Beta Version Of The Website

The Department of Education’s technical team will monitor site performance in real time, and the beta version of the website will have scheduled pauses while the team assesses what refinements and tweaks are needed, an administration official told in a phone interview, with another official adding that “high spikes of demand” are expected. Anyone attempting to submit an application during a beta pause will be encouraged to return later.

While there will be no changes to the application itself, the website software may change as the tech team monitors how it works in beta mode.

The application form will include information on debt relief, who qualifies for it, and how it works. It will request information such as applicants’ full names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Potential applicants who previously signed up for updates on the student debt relief process will receive an email informing them of the beta website, and once the website is formally launched, the White House will begin to use social media to spread the word. In the coming weeks, officials intend to brief digital creators and influencers.

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