Alumni Reflects on Student Loan Forgiveness
GSU Alumni and Financial Aid Coordinator Francisco Serna (20’) never thought he’d see concrete plans come to pass to help eliminate student loan debt.
“Every election term, candidates touted it but it's not something that ever really happened,” said Serna, who paid for his schooling at GSU with student loans.
But in August, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a Student Debt Relief Plan that includes one-time student loan debt relief targeted to low- and middle-income families. Now Serna’s among roughly 27 million borrowers eligible to receive up to $20,000 in relief.
“For me it’s huge,” he said about the plan, which will erase the remaining loan balances for as many as 20 million Americans. “That’s an extra $20,000 grand that I can use to pay for a better home or for retirement, saving for emergencies. There are all these different areas the money will be able to help with.”
However, he thinks the relief will do a lot more than that for some low-income students. It could help improve their social mobility and offer an opportunity to change their circumstances.
“Especially for those students who come from impoverished areas that have the highest need and the lowest access to education,” he said. “They are really the ones that should be benefiting the most.”
Individuals are eligible for relief if they have federal loans and if they have an annual income of less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021. For married couples, that income threshold is less than $250,000 in the same two years. If eligible, borrowers could get up to $20,000 in debt relief if they received a Pell Grant in college and if they meet the income threshold. If they didn’t receive a Pell grant but meet the income threshold, they can receive up to $10,000 in debt relief. If your outstanding loan balance is less than the maximum amount of debt relief you’re eligible for, you’ll receive relief only from your full loan balance.
More details about the plan will be released soon but according to the White House, an online form to apply for the relief will be available in October 2022. Borrowers will then have until Dec. 31, 2023 to apply. Once their applications are submitted, the Deptartment of Education will review it, determine eligibility and work with loan servicers to process relief.
While the plan addresses borrowers who’ve already accrued loans, Serna hopes it’ll lay the foundation for helping future students pay for their schooling too.
“It’s new territory that we’re investigating right now,” he said. “Because this plan is great for students who already have loans but it doesn’t fully address the issue of higher education being so expensive. It makes me curious what we’ll do for students who are just coming into college. It's like where do we go now?
Visit the Department of Education's Frequently Asked Questions page to find out more information on the student debt relief program.
Here's what you can do to get ready and to make sure you get updates directly from the Department of Education:
● Log in to your account on StudentAid.gov and make sure your contact information is up to date. The Department of Education will send you updates by both email and text message, so make sure to sign up to receive text alerts. If it's been a while since you've logged in, or if you can't remember if you have an account username and password (FSA ID), they offer tips to help you access your account.
● If you don't have a StudentAid.gov account (FSA ID), you should create an account to help you manage your loans.
● Make sure your loan servicer has your most current contact information so they can reach you. If you don't know who your servicer is, you can log in and see your servicer(s) in your account dashboard.
● To be notified when the process has officially opened, sign up at the Department of Education subscription page.
Beware of Scams!
You might be contacted by a company saying they will help you get loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for a fee. You never have to pay for help with your federal student aid. Make sure you work only with the U.S. Department of Education and their loan servicers, and never reveal your personal information or account password to anyone.
The Department of Education's emails to borrowers come from firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can report scam attempts to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or visit reportfraud.ftc.gov.