KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Biden Administration’s decision last month to cancel student loan debt is leaving many borrowers with tight timelines. The systems and procedures to help ensure the process run smoothly are still being put together.
The application process begins in October. However, there will be a tight three-month window to fill out the applications. To ensure a smooth transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults, the administration has extended the pause a final time through December 31 of 2022, with payments resuming in January of 2023. However, the Department of Education will continue to process applications as they are received, even after the pause expires.
The president of the East Tennessee BBB, Tony Binkley, has recently had conversations with process servers about how the forgiveness will work.
“I talked to one loan servicer and their phone calls after the Biden administration came out with this announcement went up like 15,000%, the number of phone calls they get per day. It is overwhelming and it’s taken a while to respond to this. They’re trying to change their software and staff to handle all of this,” said Binkley.
An estimated 40 million borrowers are eligible for student loan relief. Most of those who qualify for cancellation are students or former students who made less than 125,0000-thousand dollars in the 2020 or 2021 tax year.
“That’s about one in seven people in the United States who have a student loan, that’s a lot of people trying to contact their servicers. There are only about 6 major services nationwide. That’s a lot of people contacting them in a short amount of time. You know, I just say to anyone looking to get their loan forgiven or tying to find out (information), just be patient with your servicer,” said Binkley.
Amid the complexity for borrowers, there are scammers out there chomping at the bit to take advantage of this process.
“One thing to be wary of is if you see a government look-alike site. Those are hard to determine because scammers are good at that too. So go to studentaid.gov. That is the absolute best site to go to get the information that you need,” said Binkley.
Another thing to remember, a real government program will not ask for an advanced processing fee.
“There is always a fee involved when scammers. It’s not always about getting your fee, necessarily, it’s about getting your payment information banking and credit card information. You won’t have to pay any fees if this goes through and you shouldn’t give this information to anybody,” said Binkley.
The U.S. Education Department has indicated that around eight million federal student loan borrowers may receive student loan forgiveness automatically, without needing to submit a formal application. This includes borrowers who have already sent recent income data to the Education Department.
The Biden Administration says that a formal application for the new student loan forgiveness initiative should be available on studentaid.gov in early October. While few details have been released so far, the application is expected to be a fairly simple document and, the education department says they expect a four-to-six-week turnaround on applications, which is fairly fast when it comes to federal student loan paperwork.