President Joe Biden discusses student loan debt forgiveness in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. [+] House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Millions of borrowers may benefit from the Biden administration’s new one-time student loan forgiveness initiative, which is getting ready to launch. However, some of the eligibility requirements have recently changed as the administration deals with growing legal challenges to the program even before it begins.
Here is the current eligibility situation and information on how to determine whether your student loans are forgiven.
Biden’s One-Time Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
Millions of borrowers of federal student loans could receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness under President Biden’s new one-time loan forgiveness plan. If a borrower received a Pell Grant, they may be eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 in full, while other borrowers may only be eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $10,000. Borrowers must have earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, or less than $250,000 if they were married.
But it becomes a little complicated when determining which student loans are eligible for relief. Relief may be available for all federal student loans held by the government, including parent PLUS loans and loans for undergraduate and graduate students. Direct federal student loans and FFELP loans already handled by the Education Department would be included in this. Private student loans and the majority of commercially held FFELP loans currently do not qualify due to a sudden change in policy last week.
But how can you tell if a federal loan is held by the government?
Direct Federal Loans Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness Under Biden’s PlanMORE FROM
By definition, all federal student loans issued through the Direct loan program are held by the government. Direct loans are originated directly by the U. S. Department of Education then retains ownership of the loans while contracting out servicing and management to various outside loan servicers
If the other requirements (like income) are also satisfied, then your Stafford, Consolidation, Graduate PLUS, or Parent PLUS loan should be eligible for relief under Biden’s one-time student loan forgiveness initiative.
Borrowers can log into their student loan servicing account, or log into their Department of Education account at StudentAid.gov, to determine whether the applicable loans are Direct loans.
Direct and FFELP Loans In Default Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness Under Biden’s Plan
At the time of writing, the Education Department’s guidelines state that defaulted federal student loans that are “held by [the Education Department] or commercially serviced Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, parent PLUS, and graduate PLUS; and Perkins loans held by [the Education Department] are eligible for student loan forgiveness under the plan.” To break this down more clearly, this includes:
If you’re not sure whether you have federal student loans in default, log into your Department of Education account at StudentAid.gov, which will show the current status of your outstanding federal student loans.
FFELP Loans and Perkins Loans Held by the Government Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness Under Biden’s Plan
FFEL-program loans are federal student loans that are backed by the government but were originated by a private or commercial lender. Since then, the Education Department has received some of these FFELP loans, but many others have not.
Under the Biden plan, the Education Department’s FFELP loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness. However, it can be a little challenging to understand this. There are two ways to find out if your FFELP loans are held by the government:
Most Commercially-Held FFELP Loans No Longer Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness Under Biden’s Plan
As of September 29, 2022, commercially held FFELP loans in good standing (FFEL-program loans that are not in default and are not held by the Department of Education) are no longer eligible for the one-time student loan forgiveness program. In order to qualify, borrowers could consolidate these loans into a federal Direct consolidation loan, but the Biden administration abruptly changed the rules in response to intensifying legal challenges from states and lenders participating in the FFEL program.
There is one important exception, however. “Borrowers who applied to consolidate into the Direct Loan program before September 1, 2016, with FFEL Program loans and Perkins Loans not held by [the Department of Education] According to the administration’s current guidance, borrowers who take out Direct Loans before December 29, 2022, are qualified for one-time debt relief.
For borrowers with commercially held FFELP loans, the administration is looking into alternative options.
Next Steps for Borrowers Seeking Student Loan Forgivenes
A straightforward application for student loan forgiveness will be made available this month, according to the Biden administration. Borrowers will have until the end of 2023 to submit a program application for relief. However, legal issues might prevent the plan’s implementation, so borrowers should be watchful and keep up with any new developments.
Borrowers can review current guidance on the initiative here.
Further Student Loan Reading
Are FFELP loans included in forgiveness?
All borrowers with ED-owned loans (Direct Loans and federally held FFELP Loans) who have repaid them for at least 20 or 25 years will automatically be forgiven.
Is FFELP consolidation eligible for forgiveness?
The education department is providing a one-time waiver of the payment requirements, which will hasten the forgiveness process for many FFELP borrowers. If they combine their commercially held loans into a Direct Loan by May 1, 2023, they are eligible.
Are FFELP loans private or federal?
FFEL Program Loans FFELP Loans, with the exception of the PLUS Loan, are not subject to credit checks and are guaranteed by the US government. There are three (3) different kinds of FFELP loans: Stafford Loans, on which the federal government may or may not pay the interest while the borrower is enrolled;
Will Biden forgive FFELP loans?
Under the Biden plan, the Education Department’s FFELP loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness.