Applications for Biden’s student debt relief aren’t open yet. What Californians should know

The application for the Biden administration’s federal student loan forgiveness plan hasn’t opened yet — but it’s expected sometime in October, with some changes to eligibility.

There are roughly 4 million Californians who owe money on student loans, according to the state. Collectively, they have about $147 billion in debt — with an average of $38,530, a 2021 report states.

Since President Joe Biden announced the order in August, the administration has modified eligibility.

What changed?

As of Thursday, borrowers with federal student loans held by private entities “cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.” This would include Federal Family Education Loans and Perkins Loans not held by the Department of Education. Those who consolidated before Sept. 29 are still eligible for at least $10,000 in relief.

The update comes as a shock to many and has already ignited a petition on to get loan forgiveness for FFEL loan borrowers.

The Washington Post reported that the change would affect about 770,000 borrowers.

The Student Aid website says the department “is assessing whether there are alternative pathways to provide relief to borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED, including FFEL Program loans and Perkins Loans, and is discussing this with private lenders”.

Do you qualify for loan forgiveness?

You’re eligible for loan forgiveness if you borrowed loans held by the department of education, not private loans. To qualify you needed to have made under $125,000 individually or $250,00 jointly in 2020 or 2021.

How much relief will you qualify for?

At least $10,000 will be awarded to those who meet the loan forgiveness requirements.

Those who were Pell Grant recipients will receive an additional $10,000 in loan forgiveness, for a total of $20,000 in debt relief.

Where do you apply?

Applications for the loan forgiveness program are expected to open sometime in October. The White House has not specified a date. If the Department of Education already has your income information — likely if you’re on an income-based repayment plan — your relief will be automatic and you don’t need to apply. If you’re unsure, fill out the application.

How should you prepare?

For now, you can prepare by logging on to and confirming your information on the site is correct and up to date.

A key deadline for more relief

Another student debt relief program could benefit California borrowers who have worked in public service for at least 10 years. The deadline for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is Oct. 31.

Qualifying employers include not-for-profit agencies or government organizations operating on any level, whether state, federal, local or tribal. Working in any capacity for the U.S. military also meets eligibility requirements.

Does your California job qualify you for this student debt relief? How to know

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