Student Loan Forgiveness: The Biden administration begins the process of forgiving student loan debt


The Biden administration is launching efforts to forgive student loan debt on Thursday, sending out updates on the process by email before the application window opens next month.

In August, President Joe Biden announced his decision to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for people making less than $125,000 a year or $20,000 for borrowers who are Pell Grant recipients.

They signed up for updates, and an education Department email obtained by CNN on Thursday offered some details about who it is and what to expect in the process.

“In October, the US Department of Education will launch a short online application for student debt relief. You will not need to upload supporting documents or use your FSA ID to submit your application,” the email said.

He continued, “Once your application is submitted, we’ll review it, determine if you’re eligible for debt relief, and work with your loan servicer to process your relief. We’ll contact you if we need any additional information from you.”

The email said additional updates would be sent “in the coming days,” but did not give a specific date for when the application window will open in October. It will be extended until December 2023. He also warned readers to “beware of scams.”

“You may be contacted by a company saying they will help you with loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt for a fee. You should never pay back your federal student aid. Make sure you work only with the US Department of Education and our loan servicers, and never share your personal information or account password with anyone,” he said.

The Education Department is “working closely” with the White House through the implementation process, a department spokesman said, and is meeting daily.

“Our goal is to provide an easy and simple experience for borrowers by partnering with the servers who will actually process the loan,” the spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

Biden’s student debt movement opened new divisions both within and outside his party. While some supporters applauded the decision, progressives say it didn’t go far enough, some Democratic economists warned it could worsen inflation, and Republicans said it was unfair and costly. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday that the repeal could cost as much as $400 trillion, but noted that those estimates were still “highly uncertain.”

The White House says the cost should be seen over a 30-year period.

And in one of the first significant legal challenges to the loan forgiveness plan, a public interest lawyer filed a lawsuit Tuesday, arguing the policy is an abuse of executive power. Plaintiff Frank Garrison claims that because of the student loan forgiveness, he will be forced to pay state taxes on the amount forgiven, an expense he would otherwise have avoided.

The lawsuit, which names the Department of Education as a defendant, alleges the agency’s “unacceptable abuse of executive authority to restore the rule of law and enforce the Constitution’s separation of powers,” according to a press release from the Pacific Legal Foundation.

White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said in an emailed statement, “The claim is without merit for one simple reason: No one will be forced to write off their debt. Anyone who doesn’t want to write off their debt can choose to opt out.”

This story has been updated with additional information.