Student Loan Forgiveness: Beta Testing Begins for Application Process — What You Need To Know

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Federal student loan borrowers who qualify for forgiveness of up to $20,000 are now a step closer following an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that beta testing the application process has begun.

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The beta phase began in the evening on Oct. 14, CNBC reported. The application is available at StudentAid.gov and will be available on and off during the testing period. The Education Department’s technical staff will occasionally pause the site for assessments, refinements and maintenance during the beta phase. When the site is down, borrowers are advised to check back so they can submit their applications after the pause has concluded or when the official site launches.

There won’t be any changes made to the application itself during the beta phase, CNN reported. However, there could be changes to the website software as the tech team tracks how it works in beta mode.

“This testing period will allow the department to monitor site performance through real-world use, test the site ahead of the official application launch, refine processes and uncover any possible bugs prior to official launch,” an Education Department spokesperson told media outlets in an email statement.

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Borrowers who apply for debt relief during the beta period will receive confirmation emails, but their applications won’t be processed until the site formally launches. The official launch is expected by the end of October. Once the formal processing phase begins, most qualifying borrowers are expected to receive debt relief within weeks.

Borrowers will not need to reapply if they submit their applications during the beta test, the Education Department spokesperson said.

As previously reported by GOBankingRates, borrowers with an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $125,000 in either 2020 or 2021 — or $250,000 for households — will be eligible for up to $10,000 in canceled debt. Those who received Pell Grants will be eligible for up to $20,000 in cancelled debt.

To qualify, borrowers must have federally held student loans. In addition to federal Direct Loans used to pay for undergraduate degrees, federal PLUS loans borrowed by graduate students and parents might also be eligible if the borrower meets the income requirements.

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Education Department officials aim to start processing debt relief before the current pause on student loan repayments ends, which is scheduled to happen on Dec. 31, 2022. However, borrowers will have until Dec. 31, 2023 to submit their loan forgiveness applications.

Opponents of the student loan forgiveness plan have filed multiple lawsuits to either end the process or at least slow it down. As CNN noted, a U.S. district judge might soon decide whether to temporarily block the program until the judge issues a final ruling on the case.

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Meanwhile, potential applicants who signed up for updates on the loan forgiveness process will receives emails notifying them about the beta website. Once the website is formally launched, the White House will spread the word over social media and other channels.

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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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