Friday’s beta test of the Department of Education’s website allowed federal student loan borrowers access to submit applications for debt relief.
The site will not officially launch until later in the month. However, applicants who applied for beta testing won’t need to reapply for their applications, an Education Department spokesperson stated.
The spokesperson stated that the testing period would allow the department to observe site performance in real-world usage, test the site before the official application launch, refine processes, and uncover bugs before the official launch.
Biden unveiled his plan to reduce student debt in August. For borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year, and for couples filing taxes together who earn less than $250,000 annually, it will cancel up to $10,000 of debt. Pell Grant recipients who account for the majority of borrowers would be eligible to receive an additional $10,000 in debt relief. According to the administration, the overall plan will help more than 40,000,000 borrowers.
According to the website, the launch comes before the official application period for student loan relief. This period is slated to start later in the month and last until December 31, 2023. The Education Department had previously stated that applications would be available in October.
The application forms ask for the borrower’s full name and Social Security number. It also requests contact information. There is an income-related question that will be asked in 2020 or 2021 to confirm eligibility.
According to the website, the Education Department will determine if an applicant is eligible. Once approved, it will notify borrowers that they have been sent to loan servicers for debt relief. These loan servicers will notify borrowers that relief has been granted. They will also provide details about outstanding loans and payment updates.
During a conference call this week, a senior administration official stated that they expected to be able to process the applications of “millions” of Americans before Jan. 1 and that the “vast majority of borrowers” who submit their applications by mid-November will see their debt forgiven before the deadline.
According to the official, the administration is working with existing contractors to ensure they can handle the anticipated flood of applications.
The official stated that they are aware of the importance of this project and that it will affect 40 million borrowers, their families, and communities. He also said that they are planning for excitement and that they feel good about where they are at present in their preparations.