Student Loan Forgiveness: Approval Letters Are Being Sent, But It Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get Money — Here’s Why

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Despite legal entanglements that have temporarily halted the Biden administration’s federal student loan forgiveness program, administration officials continue to inform borrowers that they are approved for relief. That doesn’t mean borrowers will get relief anytime soon, however.

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On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Education started sending emails alerting borrowers that they’ve been approved for loan forgiveness and also providing details about lawsuits that have delayed the program, Business Insider reported. The emails were sent a day after the administration asked the Supreme Court to let the program go forward.

In the emails, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona informed borrowers that “your application is complete and approved, and we will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in court.”

That last part is the wild card — “if and when” the Department of Education prevails in court. On Nov. 14, a federal appeals court issued a nationwide injunction temporarily blocking the loan relief program, which aims to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower. The ruling was made following a lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states that accused the Biden administration of overstepping its executive powers.

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The administration had hoped to start issuing relief this month. However, it can’t move forward until the legal challenges go away — which could be a long time, if ever. Administration officials continue to press their case that the loan forgiveness program is necessary to give borrowers financial relief before federal student loan repayments are set to resume in January 2023.

As Business Insider noted, on Nov. 18 the Department of Justice urged the Supreme Court to let the plan move forward by lifting the appeals court ruling. As of Nov. 21, the Supreme Court had not issued a ruling of its own in reply.

But while millions of federal student loan borrowers wonder whether they will ever get relief, a much smaller number of borrowers are on track to get loans canceled due to alleged school misconduct, Forbes reported. Last week the Department of Education sent a separate batch of notices informing certain borrowers that they will not have to pay back their student loans under a group discharge initiative.

According to Forbes, the notice was sent to thousands of borrowers and declared the following: “The Department of Education… has determined that the loan(s) you received… are eligible for full loan discharge. This means the remaining balance on the loan(s) will be forgiven. You do not have to make any more payments on the loan(s).”

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The school misconduct discharge is related to federal government findings that certain for-profit education companies — including the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes — intentionally misrepresented job placement rates and engaged in false advertising.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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