The Biden administration has begun sending emails to federal student loan borrowers approved for student loan forgiveness, even as the program faces legal challenges.
"We reviewed your application and determined that you are eligible for loan relief under the Plan," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote in an email. "We have sent this approval to your loan servicer. You do not need to take any further action."
"Unfortunately, a number of lawsuits have been filed challenging the program, which have blocked our ability to discharge your debt at present," Cardona continued. "We believe strongly that the lawsuits are meritless, and the Department of Justice has appealed on our behalf."
Cardona said the Education Department would continue to update borrowers with new developments, saying their debt would be discharged if and when the department prevails in court.
"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping borrowers as they recover from the pandemic," he wrote. "Education is a great equalizer, and we will never stop fighting for you!"
The student debt relief plan would forgive up to $10,000 of eligible student loans held by the Department of Education or $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell Grants. Eligible borrowers can’t make more than $125,000 per year if filing single or $250,000 for married couples.
However, the Department of Education is no longer taking applications for student loan relief as of this writing.
"Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program," a message reads on the Federal Student Aid website. "As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders."
If you have private student loans, these won’t qualify for federal student loan forgiveness. But you could consider refinancing to a lower interest rate. Visit Credible to compare different student loan lenders, without affecting your credit score.
Student loan forgiveness legal battle
The Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan has faced several lawsuits in recent months.
Most recently in November, the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction that extended a block on the debt forgiveness plan.
That block was part of a lawsuit brought against the Department of Education by the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina. These states argue that the plan threatens their future tax revenues. A federal judge had dismissed that argument, but the states appealed the ruling.
Meanwhile, a Texas judge in a separate lawsuit deemed the program "unlawful," and also blocked the forgiveness plan. That lawsuit was brought on by two borrowers who were either partially or fully ineligible for debt forgiveness.
If you have private student loans and want to reduce your monthly payment, you could consider refinancing to a lower interest rate. Visit Credible to compare different student loan lenders without affecting your credit score.
Student loan payment pause may get extended
Following court rulings against the Department of Education, many activists have begun calling on the government to extend its federal loan payment freeze.
As part of the CARES Act initiated at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, payments on certain federal student loans were paused and interest rates dropped to zero. Currently, the freeze is set to end on December 31st. This means borrowers would resume payments in January.
"We call on President Biden to protect borrowers during this uncertain time, by extending the student loan payment pause until all legal hurdles are cleared and debts are canceled," the Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC) said in a statement.
Private student loan borrowers won’t qualify for federal debt relief. But you can consider refinancing your private student loans into a lower interest rate. Visit Credible and speak to a student loan expert to see if this option is right for you.
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