U.S. markets open in 1 hour 20 minutes
  • S&P Futures

    3,988.25
    +22.50 (+0.57%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    33,943.00
    +140.00 (+0.41%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    11,730.00
    +84.50 (+0.73%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    1,827.90
    +8.20 (+0.45%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    72.04
    +0.58 (+0.81%)
     
  • Gold

    1,812.70
    +11.20 (+0.62%)
     
  • Silver

    23.33
    +0.08 (+0.34%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0560
    0.0000 (-0.00%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    3.4910
    0.0000 (0.00%)
     
  • Vix

    22.62
    -0.06 (-0.26%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2288
    +0.0050 (+0.41%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    135.6830
    -0.9470 (-0.69%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    17,256.48
    +429.97 (+2.56%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    407.11
    +12.42 (+3.15%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,474.06
    +1.89 (+0.03%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    27,901.01
    +326.58 (+1.18%)
     

Student loan forgiveness: Government offers updates on eligibility

As borrowers wait for the application for student debt forgiveness — due out any day now — the Education Department (ED) has offered some recent updates on loan eligibility, income requirements, and assistance for borrowers in default.

If you had FFEL and Perkins Loans not owned by the Education Department and applied to consolidate them into the federal direct loan program before Sept. 29, 2022, they are eligible for loan forgiveness.

Income requirements will be based on adjusted gross income from your 2020 or 2021 federal tax return, and borrowers in default can use the Fresh Start Program to get them back in good standing to be eligible.

Borrowers have until the end of 2023 to apply, but they are encouraged to apply by November 15 to get relief before loan repayments begin in January. The ED will process applications on an ongoing basis, according to a White House Press Briefing.

Here's what else you need to know about Biden's student loan debt forgiveness.

Woman throws her cap into the air to celebrate graduation from the University of Missouri.
Woman throws her cap into the air to celebrate graduation from the University of Missouri.

Who qualifies for $20,000 in student loan debt forgiveness?

Borrowers who received Pell Grants and make less than $125,000 as individuals or less than $250,000 as married couples are eligible to receive $20,000 in student loan debt forgiveness. Your income is based on either your 2020 or 2021 federal tax return. It is expected that income will be based on adjusted gross income (AGI), but we are awaiting confirmation from ED.

What is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is a federal grant to low-income undergraduates who have not yet earned a first bachelor’s degree with the greatest demonstrated financial need. Eligibility is determined from documentation provided on the free application for federal student aid, known as FAFSA. In 2020-21, approximately 6.4 million students received a Pell Grant with the average award of $4,166 and over 78% of recipients had family incomes of less than $40,000, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).

Who qualifies for $10,000 in student loan debt forgiveness?

Those who did not receive Pell Grants but make less than $125,000 as individuals or less than $250,000 as a married couple are eligible for $10,000 in student loan debt forgiveness. Your income is based on either your 2020 or 2021 federal tax return. It is expected that income will be based on adjusted gross income (AGI), but we are awaiting confirmation from ED.

Loan Forgiveness Debt Allocation
Credit: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

Are current students with loans eligible for forgiveness?

Students currently enrolled in school with loans also can qualify for relief as long as their parents' income is below the eligibility cap for single or married filers. Loans must have been originated before July 1 to be eligible.

Which types of student loans are eligible for forgiveness?

Only federally backed student loans are eligible for forgiveness. Loans from private banks and lenders don't qualify — this includes federal loans consolidated with a private lender.

Both undergraduate and graduate direct loans are eligible for cancelation along with Parent PLUS loans taken out by parents or guardians.

As of September 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by the Education Department are not eligible for debt relief by consolidating those loans into federal direct loans.

If you had FFEL and Perkins Loans not owned by the Education Department and applied to consolidate them into the federal direct loan program before Sept. 29, 2022, they are eligible for loan forgiveness.

If your loans are in default, use the Fresh Start Program to get them back in good standing.

Loans eligible for Biden's loan forgiveness
Credit: U.S. Department of Education

How can I apply for student loan debt forgiveness?

Almost 8 million borrowers could be eligible to get relief automatically because their income data is already available to the Education Department. Those borrowers will be notified of automatic relief.

Everyone else must apply to certify income.

Applications will be available online sometime in October. Initially, the application will be available only online, but a paper version will be available later.

You have until the end of next year, December 31, 2023, to apply, according to FSA's latest FAQ update.

If you still have outstanding debt after loan forgiveness, it is highly recommended to complete the application before the end of this year to make sure your loan servicer recalculates your new balance and monthly payment when payments start in January.

Loan forgiveness timeline
Credit: U.S. Department of Education

What happens to any payments I made during the payment pause?

If you made payments during the federal student loan moratorium (beginning March 13, 2020), you can get a refund for payments made by contacting your loan service provider, according to the Federal Student Aid website.

Is this the same as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program?

No. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness provides student debt forgiveness to those who have worked at least 10 years in public service jobs with federal, state, local, or certain non-profit organizations such as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. The PSLF waiver expires October 31.

How can I stay updated on the student loan forgiveness application process?

Borrowers can get notifications when the application is available by signing up at StudentAid.gov/debtrelief.

What happens with my payments if I'm not eligible for forgiveness or the forgiveness doesn't cancel all my debt?

Biden also extended the pause or forbearance on federal student loan payments until December 31. It is not expected to be extended again. If you have debt remaining after loan forgiveness, your loan servicer will recalculate your new balance and monthly payment. Payments will resume in January 2023.

Is the forgiven student loan debt taxable?

Not on the federal level. This debt relief will not be considered taxable income for federal income tax purposes because of a provision in the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021.

However, some states — like Arkansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin — may consider it taxable income.

Ronda is a personal finance senior reporter for Yahoo Money and attorney with experience in law, insurance, education, and government. Follow her on Twitter @writesronda

Read the latest personal finance trends and news from Yahoo Money.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Flipboard, and LinkedIn