Enrichment Education

How to apply for student debt relief as court battle goes on

Disbursement of relief funds may be on pause, but that doesn’t mean borrowers still can’t apply

Story at a glance

  • An appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked the disbursement of student debt relief. 

  • The ruling came shortly after an appeal from six Republican attorneys general representing GOP-led states.  

  • The ruling does not bar borrowers from applying to the program, officials said.  

Student loan borrowers can still apply for debt relief despite the federal appeal that has temporarily blocked the Biden administration from giving out up to $20,000 in student loan relief per person.  

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit issued a stay on the program last Friday following an appeal from six attorneys general representing GOP-led states.  

The ruling was issued just four days after the federal Department of Education launched the application for the student loan debt relief program online.  

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Eligible borrowers are encouraged to apply for the program despite the appeal, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Friday.  

“It also does not prevent us from reviewing these applications and preparing them for transmission to loan servicers,” Jean-Pierre said in the statement.  

“It is also important to note that the order does not reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case has merit.  It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision.”  

So far, about 22 million U.S. student loan borrowers have applied for the program.  

Eligible borrowers have until Dec. 31, 2023, to fill out the application online or in paper form, with the Department of Education claims will be available soon, according to CNBC. The U.S. Department of Education has not said when the paper application will be made available.   

Those that qualify for the program are individuals who made less than $125,000 a year in 2021 or 2020 and families that made less than $250,000 last year or the year before.  

Borrowers that received a Federal Pell Grant in college and meet the income requirements can have up to $20,000 worth of debt wiped from their balance. Those that did not receive a Pell Grant can have up to $10,000 worth of debt stricken from their student loan balance.  

Applicants should remember that the program only applies to federal student loans that were taken out prior to June 30, 2022.  

Before the appeal, the Department of Education estimated that applications would see their relief reflected in their student loan balance within four to six weeks.  

Borrowers should apply for the program by Nov. 15 if they want to receive relief before the student loan payment pause is lifted on Jan. 1., according to the Department of Education.  

Filling out an online application can take less than five minutes.

Borrowers only need to include their name, social security number, date of birth and contact information to fill out the official application.