Education Department begins beta testing for student loan forgiveness application

Student loan borrowers gather near The White House to tell President Biden to cancel student debt on May 12, 2020.
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The Education Department could begin beta testing the student debt forgiveness application as soon as Friday night, The Washington Post reported.

The portal will be open for a short window to test its viability and collect data on the site’s functionality, the newspaper reported, citing three federal officials with knowledge of the plan.

The White House and the Education Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A preview of the application earlier this week suggested a full rollout of the application could come as soon as next week, higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz told CNBC.

Kantrowitz said he had no firsthand knowledge of the Education Department’s test, but noted that “beta is a slow launch, making sure they get all the bugs out before they release it to everybody.”

“As soon as [the application] goes live to everybody, it’s going to be overwhelmed,” he added. “Just the announcement of forgiveness caused [site] slowdowns.”

Borrowers who happen upon the beta test link could be able to submit their forgiveness application ahead of the full rollout.

“If you do see the beta, there could be little glitches,” Kantrowitz said. “But if you successfully submit your application for forgiveness, you’ve submitted it.”

What to know about the forgiveness application

President Joe Biden announced in August that most federal student loan borrowers will be eligible for some debt forgiveness: up to $10,000 if they didn’t receive a Pell Grant, which is a type of aid available to low-income undergraduate students, and up to $20,000 if they did.

The relief is limited to individuals who earned no more than $125,000 a year or married couples or heads of households who made less than $250,000, in either 2020 or 2021.

The White House has said borrowers will be able to fill out and submit the short application for cancellation on a desktop computer or on their mobile phone.

Borrowers won’t need their FSA ID to apply, officials said. They will not be asked to prove their income on the main application, although some borrowers may later need to provide supporting documentation at the Education Department’s request.

Request relief as soon as the form launches, Kantrowitz said. There are several pending legal challenges against the Biden administration’s forgiveness plan. If your loans are forgiven before a lawsuit gets in the way, he said, “you probably get to keep your forgiveness.”

“As soon as it becomes available, everybody should apply,” he said.

Reporter Annie Nova contributed to this story.

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