Student loan forgiveness applications open in website beta test

Student loan borrowers began applying for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness on Friday after the Education Department launched a beta test of its website ahead of the full rollout of the relief program.

Anyone who submits an application during the beta test will have it processed when the form officially launches, according to the department. The federal agency said it is accepting applications to help refine the process ahead of the official form launch.

The portal — available at https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application — will be available on and off during the beta test, the agency said. The department’s technical team will be pausing the site at various points for assessments, refinements and maintenance. The agency is encouraging borrowers unable to access the form to try again later or wait until the application is available to everyone. There is no advantage to applying before the full launch, the agency said.

“Borrowers will not need to reapply if they submit their application during the beta test, but no applications will be processed until the site officially launches later this month,” a spokesperson for the department said. “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.”

The department has continued to lay the groundwork for the rollout as well The forgiveness plan faces multiple legal challenges. The application is set to open to all borrowers later this month.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration gave an early look at the application form for the president’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal loan debt for eligible borrowers. It had previously said that the application would be short and that borrowers would not be required to provide documents or a federal student identification number.

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White House shares early look at student loan forgiveness application

The application will require borrowers to give their Social Security numbers and attest that they earned less than the income caps set for relief. The forgiveness is limited to borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, or less than $250,000 for married couples. Nearly 95 percent of borrowers with federal student loans meet the income requirement for the program and qualify for relief, according to the White House.

Borrowers have been clamoring for more information about the forgiveness plan since President Biden unveiled it in August. They crashed the Education Department’s website on the day of the announcement. Testing out the application portal could help the administration avoid a repeat.

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