Top Four Questions Borrowers Are Asking About Student Loan Forgiveness (2022)

Since the student loan forgiveness announcement from the Biden Administration on August 24, 2022, our phones have been busy!

The borrowers we have spoken with are frustrated with extremely long hold times when they call their servicers to get information or have found that their servicers have changed. As of today, we are also frustrated and are working hard to find out all the details about how the program will work.

To help, we have gathered the answers to the top four questions student loan borrowers have asked us about student loan forgiveness.

Top Four Student Loan Forgiveness Questions

  • To be eligible, your annual income must have fallen below the income threshold of $125,000 (for individuals) or $250,000 (for married couples or heads of households).

  • If you received a Pell Grant in college and meet the income threshold, you will be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation.

  • If you did not receive a Pell Grant in college and meet the income threshold, you will be eligible for up to $10,000 in debt cancellation.

Your relief is capped at the amount of your outstanding debt.

For example: If you are eligible for $20,000 in debt relief but have a balance of $15,000 remaining, you will only receive $15,000 in relief.

Suppose you paid down your loan during the pandemic. In that case, Nerd Wallet says: “On September 13, the Education Department said a refund of the overpayment would be automatic for anyone who paid down their debt below the cancellation amount they qualify for. That is, if you qualify for $10,000 in cancellation but paid the balance down to $8,000 during the pandemic, your balance of $8,000 would be discharged and the remaining $2,000 would be refunded.”

NERD WALLET’S GUIDANCE ON REQUESTING A REFUND:

Starting the process for getting a refund on payments is relatively simple if you have the right information handy. You need:

  • Your loan servicer’s phone number.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Payment confirmation numbers or bank payment information.
  • The address where you want your refund delivered.

You can likely find payment confirmation numbers on your loan servicer account portal under your payment history. Each payment has a unique identification number that will allow the servicer representative to apply your refund accurately. You can find your bank transaction dates or check numbers on your bank account portal.

The first step is to call your loan servicer. Your loan servicer representative could ask for your Social Security number to pull up your account. After they verify your account and identity, let them know you want to request a refund on payments made during the interest-free forbearance period.

Expect long hold times, says Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance.

The representative will ask you which payments, specifically, you want refunded. To make this go quickly and smoothly, be prepared to provide them with the applicable payment confirmation numbers or transaction numbers.

You will also need to confirm your address on file: Refunds could come via check or electronically.

Then, the representative will submit the request on your behalf and provide you with a confirmation.

 


NOTE FROM CHAMPION: Not one single borrower has reported to Champion a smooth process of requesting a refund. As of 10/4/2022 servicers are directing the borrowers to contact the DOE, but DOE is recommending the borrowers contact their servicer. It is very frustrating to apply for a refund.

UPDATED 10/4/2022: Because Champion has received so many calls from student loan borrowers who are confused about the guidance published on the StudentAid.gov website, we added Champion’s Notes to the points below.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: Nearly 8 million borrowers may be eligible to receive relief automatically because relevant income data is already available to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

CHAMPION’S NOTES: If the DOE does have your income information, your loan forgiveness should be automatically processed and applied.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: If the U.S. Department of Education doesn’t have your income data, the Administration will launch a simple application scheduled to be available by early October.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: As of October 4, 2022, the simple application has not been released.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: If you want to be notified when the application opens, sign up on the Department of Education subscription page.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: The DOE only recommends signing up for the application notification for borrowers on which the DOE lacks income information.

But, even if the DOE has your income information, it is wise to sign up to be notified when the application opens and complete the form. Why? Because during this historic event, the DOE will, for the first time, simultaneously process MILLIONS of loan forgiveness applications, a scale that has never before been completed! Because this is a new process of epic proportions, the likelihood that it will be a simple, smooth, error-free process is extremely low. Therefore, we recommend you consider completing the application even if the DOE has your income information to ensure your loan forgiveness is properly processed.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: Once a borrower completes the application, they can expect relief within 4-6 weeks.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: Save a copy of your application and make a note on your calendar at the 6-week mark to follow up and see if your forgiveness has been applied.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: We encourage everyone who is eligible to apply, but there are 8 million people for whom the Department of Education has data and will get the relief automatically.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: The DOE is saying everyone should apply, which is confusing because they also say that if they have your income information, your forgiveness will automatically be processed. We are unsure why the DOE says has this contradictory guidance, which is why we recommend completing your application even if the DOE has your income information.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: Borrowers are advised to apply before November 15 to receive relief before the payment pause expires on December 31, 2022.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: The DOE is saying that if they do not have your income information, apply before November 15 to get relief before payments resume.

STUDENTED.GOV SAYS: The Department of Education will continue to process applications as they are received, even after the pause expires on December 31, 2022.

CHAMPION’S NOTES: The final date to apply for loan forgiveness is December 31, 2023.

Choosing a Post-Pandemic Repayment Strategy

Feeling hopeful about loan forgiveness is comforting. If you will have a balance remaining after your loan forgiveness is applied, we recommend the best strategy is to file NOW for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan so that you can be ready to resume payments when it happens. Your monthly payment could be as low as zero dollars per month depending on your income and household size. Lastly, keep in mind that the Income-Driven Repayment Plans do have the benefit of potential student loan forgiveness.

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