Student borrowers gather near the White House to tell President Biden to cancel student debt on May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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The US Department of Education has launched its official application for student loan forgiveness, which means tens of millions of Americans can now apply for financial relief.

The launch follows a short beta test, during which the Department of Education offered intermittent access to the form while it tested the site. Borrowers could apply for forgiveness in these windows when the portal was open.

More than 8 million people called for relief over the weekend, President Joe Biden said Monday during a speech at the White House.

“Today I am announcing how millions of people, working class people, can apply for this relief,” Biden said.

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The president announced in August that most federal student loan borrowers will be eligible for some remission: up to $10,000 if they don’t receive a Pell grant, which is a type of aid available to college students. low-income undergraduate, and up to $20,000 if they did.

More than 40 million Americans are in debt for their education, and owe a cumulative amount of $1.7 trillion, a balance that far exceeds outstanding credit card or auto debt. Soaring higher education costs coupled with stagnating wages have caused the amount of student debt with which graduates graduate. Today, the average balance is over $30,000, up from $12,000 in 1980.

Before the pandemic, when the U.S. economy was going through one of its healthiest times in history, problems plagued the federal student loan system. Only about half of borrowers were in repayment in 2019, according to an estimate by higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

A quarter – or more than 10 million people – were in default or in default, and the rest had requested temporary relief for troubled borrowers, including deferrals or forbearances. These grim numbers have led to comparisons to the mortgage crisis of 2008.

In the background of the official launch of the White House candidacy, there is a growing number of legal challenges brought by Republicans against the president’s plan.

“Republican members of Congress and Republican governors are trying to do everything they can to deny this aid, even to their own constituents,” Biden said. “Their indignation is false and hypocritical.”

Here’s what borrowers need to know to apply.

What information does the request need?

In addition to your full name and date of birth, you will also need to provide your social security number.

If you have not memorized these nine digits, consult the social security card issued to you; it has with your number on it. If you have lost your card, you can obtain a replacement card at Social Security Administration website.

You do not need your Federal Student Aid ID, also known as an FSA ID, to apply for a discount, and proof of income will not be required unless the Department of Education forwards an additional application. .

The department will verify that a number of borrowers have been truthful about their eligibility as a fraud prevention measure, although more than 90% of federal student loan borrowers fall below income limits for the relief: $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.

How will the Department of Education know if I received a Pell Grant?

What happens after my application?

After a borrower applies for forgiveness, they will receive an email confirmation from the Department of Education, Kantrowitz said.

The department will then review the application to confirm eligibility, he said. Some borrowers may receive a request from the department for additional information, including proof of income.

When your relief request is approved, you will receive an email indicating this from the department. You will then be notified by your loan officer when the discount has been applied to your account.

Make sure your repairer, as well as the education department, has the most up-to-date contact information for you. You can do it at StudentAid.gov.

You have more questions ?

The Department of Education has a toll-free helpline for borrowers who have questions about the application: 833-932-3439.

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