Student borrowers can now begin the process to get loan relief.
Any student loan borrower who made under $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, or their family income was under $250,000, can go online to StudentAid.gov and fill out an application for student debt relief and get up to $10,000 forgiven. For Pell Grant recipients, it could be up to $20,000.
Over 43 million student loan borrowers could see either amount canceled from their balances. For 20 million Americans, this could wipe out their entire balance of their student loan debt.
So far, 8 million loan borrowers have completed their student loan forgiveness application. The Department of Education launched a beta version of the website, and allowed those who tested the site to submit applications. If a borrower submitted via the beta site, they do not have to reapply when the site officially launches, according to the website.
Aaron Ament is president and CEO of Student Defense, which is an advocacy group for students' rights in higher education. He said the student debt crisis disproportionately harms students of color.
"So Black and brown college graduates owe $25,000 more on average than white graduates," Ament said. "Many of these students have struggled to make ends meet and to put food on the table, especially during the pandemic. Their loan balances also prevent them from getting a mortgage or a car loan or being able to rent an apartment."
According to Lending Tree, there are 3.6 million student loan borrowers in Texas. The average student loan balance is $32,700 in Harris County. In Fort Bend County, the average student loan balance is $38,265. Student loan borrowers in Montgomery County owe $31,923 and in Galveston County borrowers owe $28,438.
"So, it’s really life changing for millions of Americans and hopefully we’ll also see implementation of some front-end protections and accountability measures to make sure we’re not in the same situation 15 years down the road."
Borrowers have until December 31 to complete their application.
"So I would suggest to everyone to take a screenshot of your application to make sure you have a copy. But so far it seems to be processing for people who are going to studentaid.gov," Ament added. "Hopefully we'll see people go to studentaid.gov as quickly as possible, fill out the application takes about two minutes and obtain this life-changing student debt at relief."