The Education Department has begun accepting applications for President Biden's student debt cancellation—a plan that makes 43 million Americans eligible for at least some debt forgiveness. Borrowers were notified late Friday that an early, "beta launch" version of an online form was made available as the department looks to fix any glitches, the AP reports. Applications submitted during the pilot period will be processed after the form is officially made public, the agency 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 said in a statement.
The test form will be available on and off during the initial rollout, the department said on its website. The official form is expected to be made public later this month, and administration officials have been preparing for heavy web traffic. Biden's plan calls for $10,000 in federal student debt cancellation for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that make less than $250,000 a year. Those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college are eligible for an additional $10,000. The plan makes 20 million eligible to have their federal student debt erased entirely. The department did not say Monday how many applications it had fielded through the beta launch. Thousands took to social media to share the form, with many saying they submitted their applications with little trouble.
The administration has touted it as a "simple, straightforward" application. It asks for the borrower's name, Social Security number, contact information, and date of birth. It does not require income information but asks users to check a box attesting that they are eligible under the program's income limits. That information will be checked against Education Department records to identify applicants likely to exceed the income limits, the administration says. Those people will be asked for more information to document their incomes. An estimated 1 million to 5 million people will be required to provide that extra documentation, the Education Department has said. Once the Education Department begins processing applications, borrowers should expect to see their debt forgiven in four to six weeks, officials say. Borrowers will be able to submit applications through the end of 2023.
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