Federal Student Debt Relief Plan

Debt Relief Application

The Department of Education has suspended the application process.


The Biden Administration recently announced the Student Debt Relief Plan. This plan states the U.S. Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. For current students who have loans eligible for forgiveness the income requirements will be based on parent incomes.

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  • Your or your parents (for current dependent students) annual income must have fallen below $125,000 for individuals, or $250,000 for married couples or head of households in 2020 or 2021 
  • If you received a Pell Grant (https://www.marquette.edu/central/financial-aid/grants/undergraduate-pell.php) in college and meet the income threshold, you will be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation 
  • If you did not receive a Pell Grant in college and meet the income threshold, you will be eligible for up to $10,000 in debt cancellation
  • Applies only to federal student loans paid on or before June 30, 2022 
  • Your relief is capped at the amount of your outstanding debt (example: If you’re eligible for $20,000 in debt relief, but have a balance of $15,000 remaining, you will only receive $15,000 in relief) 

Review your Student Aid History for Pell

1. Go to StudentAid.gov 

  1. Log In or create an account. You may need to create an account if you had not previously created one or if it has expired since you left school.
  2. Be Patient. If you are creating a new account it can take a few days for your information to be verified. You will receive an email when your account is ready to use. It may take additional time for your aid history to be linked with your account via your Social Security Number.
  3. Once you’re logged in and the information is linked your federal student loan and grant history will appear under “My Dashboard” on the homepage. It is not required, but you can find more information about your loans by clicking on the “View Details” link.

FSA Screenshot

How to Apply

Roughly 8 million borrowers will receive loan relief automatically as relevant income information is already available to the Department of Education. Everyone who is eligible is encouraged to apply even if you may be one of the 8 million who will get relief automatically. 

The simple application for those who are eligible is available on studentaid.gov. The application takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. You will receive a confirmation email when the application is submitted, email updates as the application is processed, and an email when approved by the Department of Education. You will receive an email from your Student Loan Servicer when the debt relief is applied with either your remaining loan balance or notification that your loans are paid in full.  

Once a borrower completes the application, they can expect loan relief within 4-6 weeks. 

Beware of Scams

Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts to protect yourself against scams as you prepare to apply for debt relief.

  • DON'T pay anyone who contacts you with promises of debt relief or loan forgiveness. You will not need to pay anyone to obtain debt relief. The application will be free and easy to use.
  • DON'T reveal your FSA ID or account information or password to anyone who contacts you. The Department of Education and your federal student loan servicer will never call or email you asking for this information.
  • DON'T ever give personal or financial information to an unfamiliar caller. When in doubt, hang up and call your student loan servicer directly. You can find your federal student loan servicer's contact information at Studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/servicers.
  • DON'T refinance your federal student loans unless you know the risks. If you refinance federal student loans eligible for debt relief into a private loan, you will lose out on important benefits like one-time debt relief and flexible payment plans for federal loans.
  • DO create an FSA ID at StudentAid.gov. You will not need it for the debt relief application but having an FSA ID can allow you to easily access accurate information on your loan and make sure FSA can contact you directly, helping you equip yourself against scammers trying to contact you. Log in to your current account on StudentAid.gov and keep your contact info up to date. If you need help logging in follow these tips on accessing your account.
  • DO make sure your loan servicer has your most current contact information. If you don't know who your servicer is, you can log into StudentAid.gov and see your servicer(s) in your account.
  • DO share these messages with your networks and encourage others to sign up at www.ed.gov/subscriptions to be notified when the Student Loan Debt Relief application becomes available.
  • DO report scammers to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Having the most up-to-date and accurate information is your best protection against scammers.

You will hear directly from the Department of Education or Federal Student Aid when the application for debt relief is available. if you qualify for debt relief without needing to fill out an application, you will also hear from the Department or FSA directly. For additional information, visit our FAQ page on student debt relief.

To read more about the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to protect borrowers against scams, click here.




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What loans are eligible? 

All loans that are held by the Department of Education including Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Direct Parent and Graduate PLUS loans, Federally held Perkins loans, and Federal Direct Consolidation loans are eligible.  

As of Sept. 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.

Borrowers with FFEL Program loans and Perkins Loans not held by ED who have applied to consolidate into the Direct Loan program prior to Sept. 29, 2022, are eligible for one-time debt relief through the Direct Loan program.

ED 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.

Can I choose which loans I would like to have forgiven? 


For borrowers with multiple loans, the Department of Education will apply the relief in the following order:

  • Defaulted ED-held loans
  • Defaulted commercial FFEL Program loans
  • Non-defaulted Direct Loan Program loans and FFEL Program loans held by ED
  • Perkins Loans held by ED

If you have multiple loans in a program type (e.g., multiple Direct Loan Program loans), the Department of Education will apply the relief in the following order:

  • Apply relief to loans with highest statutory interest rate.
  • If interest rates are the same, apply to unsubsidized loans prior to subsidized loans.
  • If interest rate and subsidy status are the same, apply to the most recent loan.
  • If interest rate, subsidy status, and disbursement date are the same, apply to the loan with the lowest combined principal and interest balance.

What if my student loans are in default? 

If your loans are in default, you can likely still qualify for forgiveness. If collections activities were halted on your debt during the federal student loan payment pause, your loans are expected to be eligible for forgiveness. 

How will I know if my loans are forgiven? 

Your servicer will update your balance held with them once the loans are forgiven. Watch your loan servicer account online for updates. 

Will my monthly payments be adjusted after forgiveness? 

The Debt Relief Plan will also change the cap of repayments to 5% of discretionary income on those who are on an income-driven repayment plan. Borrowers on these repayment plans will likely have their payments adjusted. Others may have the payments adjusted by servicers, as well.  

Am I eligible for a refund if I made voluntary payments during the pandemic?

Yes. You will automatically receive a refund of your payments during the payment pause if:

  • you successfully apply for and receive debt relief under the Administration's debt relief plan, AND
  • your voluntary payments during the payment pause brought your balance below the maximum debt relief amount you're eligible to receive but did not pay off your loan in full.

    For example, if you're a borrower eligible for $10,000 in relief; had a balance of $10,500 prior to March 13, 2020; and made $1,000 in payments since then—bringing your balance to $9,500 at the time of discharge—we'll discharge your $9,500 balance, and you'll receive a $500 refund.

Other borrowers can still receive refunds on voluntary payments made after March 13, 2020 by contacting their servicer. It's important to note that these refunded payments will increase your loan balance and your monthly payments. If you expect to have a balance after discharge is applied and wish to request a refund, you can do so by contacting your servicer until Dec. 31, 2023.

If you consolidated your loan after March 13, 2020, refunds aren't available for any voluntary payments made prior to the consolidation.

Refund requests can only be made by you and refunded to you, even if someone else made a payment on your loan.

Will future loans be forgiven? 

As of now the current Debt Relief Plan is only for loans that disbursed prior to June 30, 2022. There are no indications that this type of forgiveness will occur again in the future.  

Will I have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount? 

Under this relief plan forgiven student loans are not taxable on federal income taxes. Some states, including Wisconsin, have the potential to tax forgiven student debt. Check with your state’s department of revenue or speak to a tax professional with questions.  

What tax year is the income requirement based on? 

Relief is available to individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) was below $125,000 or couples/Heads of Household whose income was below $250,000 in either the 2020 or 2021 tax years 

Are student loan repayments still paused?  

Yes, repayment on remaining loan balances is still paused through December 31st, 2022. Repayments will begin again in January of 2023.