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Student Loans: When Can You Fill Out the Student Debt Forgiveness Application?

Within weeks you'll be able to apply to get up to $20,000 in student debt canceled. We'll explain what you'll need to do.

$100 bills inside wallet
Don't forget to apply for student loan forgiveness when it's time.
James Martin/CNET

More than 40 million student loan borrowers in the US could soon benefit from student loan forgiveness, the White House announced Sept. 20. Soon you'll be able to apply to have as much as $20,000 of student loan debt canceled if you're eligible. Plus, if you made payments on your student loans during the moratorium, you can request a refund from your loan servicer. If you're not eligible for the student loan forgiveness -- or if you'll still owe money after the debt is canceled -- you won't have to make a payment until January 2023.

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While some borrowers may automatically see their debt forgiven by the Department of Education without taking any additional steps, most will need to apply for forgiveness. We'll explain below. 

Keep reading to find out if you're eligible for the student loan debt forgiveness plan and how to apply. Additionally, watch out for student loan forgiveness scams by spotting these red flags, and here are the states taxing canceled student loan debt.

Are you eligible for student loan debt forgiveness?

Under President Joe Biden's plan, the Department of Education will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individual borrowers who make below $125,000 per year or less than $250,000 for married borrowers or those who are heads of households. 

You may also be eligible for an additional $10,000 in relief if you received federal Pell Grants while enrolled in college.

An application for student loan debt forgiveness will be available to fill out

Whether you need to apply for student loan debt forgiveness depends on if the Department of Education already has your income information -- this group of borrowers mostly includes those who are enrolled in income-driven repayment plans.

If the department does have your income data, it will automatically cancel your eligible debt. You won't need to do anything further.

If the department doesn't have your income details, you must complete a new application from the Biden administration to supply the information the department needs to cancel your debt. 

Hand holding Stack of 100 dollar bills

You could be eligible for $10,000 to $20,000 in student loan debt forgiveness.

James Martin/CNET

Here's when will the debt forgiveness application will open

In an Aug. 26 press briefing, National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti said that the application for student debt forgiveness will go live in early October. He also said that after borrowers complete their applications, "They can expect relief within four to six weeks." 

"Borrowers are advised to apply by roughly Nov. 15, in order to receive relief before the payment pause expires on Dec. 31," Ramamurti said.

You can choose to be notified when the application becomes available by going to the Department of Education subscription page and signing up to receive "Federal Student Loan Borrower Updates," the first checkbox in a long list of education topics.

We'll update this story with more details when the application is available.

For more money details, here's what to do if you can't pay your credit card bills on time. Also, here's what could happen to your credit score if your student loans are forgiven.