Department of Education Begins Beta Testing of Student Loan Forgiveness App

Student borrowers gather near the White House to tell President Biden to cancel student debt on May 12, 2020.

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The US Department of Education began beta testing the student debt forgiveness app Friday night.

The app is available on StudentAid.gov. At 8:45 p.m. ET on Friday, the portal appeared to be functional, displaying a short request and a button to submit it.

The portal will be open and available during the beta test, according to The Washington Postwho was the first to report it.

“This testing period will allow the department to monitor site performance through real-world usage, test the site before the app’s official launch, fine-tune processes, and uncover any bugs before the official launch,” an education department spokesperson told CNBC in an email. statement.

During the beta period, the department’s technical team will occasionally pause the site for evaluations, improvements and maintenance. During these breaks, the department will encourage borrowers visiting the site to return so that they can submit their application after the break ends or when the official site launches.

A preview of the app earlier this week suggested a full rollout could take place as early as next week, said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

Speaking ahead of launch, Kantrowitz said he had no direct knowledge of the Education Department’s test, but noted that “the beta is a slow launch, making sure they weed out all the bugs before releasing it to everyone”.

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

Borrowers can apply for forgiveness during beta

Borrowers who come across the beta test link while it is live will be able to submit their pardon application prior to full deployment.

“If you see the beta, there might be some small issues,” Kantrowitz said. “But if you successfully submit your pardon request, you have submitted it.”

“During the beta testing period, borrowers will be able to submit applications for the Biden-Harris administration’s student debt relief program,” the Department of Education spokesperson said. “These borrowers won’t need to reapply if they submit their application during beta testing, but no applications will be processed until the site officially launches later this month.”

What you need to know about applying for forgiveness

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

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

The White House said borrowers will be able to complete and submit the short cancellation request on a desktop or mobile phone.

Borrowers will not 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 documents if requested by the Education Department.

Ask for help as soon as the form launches, Kantrowitz said. There are several ongoing legal challenges against the Biden administration’s pardon plan. If your loans are canceled before a lawsuit gets in your way, he said, “you’ll probably be able to keep your pardon.”

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

Journalist Annie Nova contributed to this story.

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