On Aug. 24, the Department of Education announced a new one-time student loan cancellation based on income, as well as extended the payment and interest pause on federal student loans. No payments are due and no interest will be charged through Dec. 31, 2022.
While this payment relief is intended to help borrowers, it also usually comes with increased scam attempts to take advantage of borrowers.
Keep reading to get the facts and details about federal student loan debt relief and tips for avoiding scams.
In general, eligibility is determined based on what types of loans a borrower has and their reported 2020 or 2021 annual federal income (whichever is less).
Only loans owned by the Dept. of Education and disbursed prior to July 1, 2022 are included in this one-time cancellation. Eligible loan types include:
*Consolidated loans are eligible if:
Borrowers can see what loan types they received by logging in to StudentAid.gov and selecting “My Aid” in the dropdown menu.
Borrowers who have qualifying loans will be eligible if their reported annual federal income in 2020 or 2021 was below $125,000 (individual or married, filing separately) or $250,000 (married, filing jointly or head of household).
If a borrower received a federal student loan during the 2021-22 academic year and is a dependent student, the 2020 family federal income from the 2021-22 FAFSA will be used to determine eligibility. If a borrower submitted a 2022-23 FAFSA, the income data submitted on that form will automatically be used to determine eligibility.
Borrowers who meet the income thresholds will qualify for up to $10,000 in debt relief. If the borrower is eligible and received a Pell Grant during college, they may qualify for an additional $10,000 in relief (up to $20,000 total debt relief).
Most borrowers can log in to StudentAid.gov to see if they received a Pell Grant from the account dashboard.
While most borrowers will have to complete an application, some will qualify automatically. The Dept. of Education will use Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and income-driven repayment application information to identify borrowers – or, as appropriate, parents – who have submitted income data for tax years 2021 or 2020. Borrowers who automatically qualify will receive an email and text message (if borrower is signed up for text alerts) letting them know they don’t need to take any additional action.
You can find all of the details about these changes at StudentAid.gov/loancancellation.
To make sure you are getting all of the latest information and alerts when the application is available, update your contact information in your profile on both your loan servicer’s website and on StudentAid.gov.
With these changes, it may be even harder to tell the difference between a scam and legitimate forgiveness and relief efforts. Some companies may offer to help borrower get loan discharge, forgiveness or cancellation for a fee.
Key things to remember:
Borrowers should contact their school or loan servicer to verify if they are unsure if an offer is legitimate.
You can find all of the details about federal student loan debt relief at StudentAid.gov/loancancellation.
If you have questions, you can contact your servicer, your school, or Student Connections. We work on behalf of schools to provide federal student loan repayment counseling. We can be reached at (866) 311-9450, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. We also can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.