Many Americans that applied for the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program are now getting approval e-mails from Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona. However, with the future of the program — and any relief payments — in limbo due to court orders blocking disbursement, the letter may not mean a great deal.
In the meantime, the student loan repayment pause has been extended to at least June 30, 2023 to allow for those awaiting a decision on the relief payments additional time to come up with the means to start making payments if necessary.
So, given all this uncertainty, why is the government sending out letters telling people they’ve been approved for relief payments?
CNBC reported that letters started being issued over the weekend of Nov. 19-20, and are meant as an informational piece to let eligible recipients know their application (filed before the injunction blocking the relief) had been looked over and approved. The letter states that if/when the program is allowed to proceed, the one-time payments will be sent out.
Basically, the letter acts a placeholder. But there are some key things in the copy that should make recipients hopeful.
- The Biden administration thinks the lawsuits are meritless. While the letter acknowledges the lawsuits that have put the program in jeopardy, the Biden administration believes they will prevail. The letter reads, “Unfortunately, a number of lawsuits have been filed challenging the program, which have blocked our ability to discharge your debt at present. We believe strongly that the lawsuits are meritless, and the Department of Justice has appealed on our behalf.”
- The next steps should be automatic if the government gets the green light. Ideally, since all the applications are saved and info is on file, if the program is able to move forward it seems like relief disbursal will be pretty seamless — and hopefully quick. As the letter reads, “We received your application or have the income information to process you for loan relief. You do not need to take any further action at this time… We will keep your application information and will continue our review of your eligibility if and when we prevail in court. We will update you when there are new developments.”
- There is support from the Biden administration, which vows to keep “fighting.” Even if the program has been stalled, there’s some comfort in knowing that the White House is trying to help loan holders with their lawmaking power. As the letter concludes, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping borrowers as they recover from the pandemic… we will never stop fighting for you!”
Though, there is one piece of relevant info missing from the letter: The amount someone might receive if the program proceeds.
CNBC also mentioned that it’s also not apparent whether anyone received a notice stating they were rejected or needed to provide more information to have their application processed. However, on Nov. 19 Cardona tweeted that if you haven’t gotten a letter yet, there’s no need to worry because “more are coming.”
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