As of Monday, October 17th, Biden’s student loan forgiveness form finally opened up. According to the Biden administration, borrowers could see their lowered or eliminated balances within six weeks of applying. $20,000 in forgiveness will be offered to students that have received the Pell Grant at least once during their undergraduate studies, while those who have not will still receive $10,000. By visiting the Federal Student Aid site, one can now apply for Biden’s student loan forgiveness program before loan re-payments are set to begin again in January.
The form is friendly and accessible to applicants. After discussion with U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, NPR reports “borrowers will not need what’s known as an FSA ID to log into the application, nor will they need to upload any documents, including tax records.” Instead, applicants are asked a series of brief questions for identification purposes. The form also asks for current contact information in cases where an applicant’s financial details may need to be verified. The form is offered in both Spanish and English via desktop and mobile browsers. And although the form is set to close in December of 2023, the forgiveness program has been at the center of heated political debates in some states. Those who qualify mustn’t hesitate to apply.
Although this is much-needed relief, there has been some pushback. Since Biden proposed his loan forgiveness plan, concern has arisen as some states consider taxing the forgiveness as income; this largely depends on current tax laws that are in place in these areas. As of the day the Siskiyou publishes this article, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi have decided to move forward with taxing the relief as income. In these states, low-income folks may experience some negative impacts should they accept the $10,000 to $20,000 in forgiveness. Those that accept the loan forgiveness now may have to find a way to ensure that they can pay a larger tax bill come this tax season. Wisconsin, Arkansas, and California are undecided on the matter. Among all the other states, the relief is not subject to income tax.
In other areas, officials have fought back on the use of the program altogether. Thus far, the drive against the relief mostly stems from republican-led states whose focus narrows in on the loss of funds from local governments and private loan providers. Other concerns raised by these officials have to do with a lack of congressional approval as well as a worry that the relief will diminish the value of Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. In a report published by CNBC, legal expert Mark Kantrowitz expects that “the president’s student loan forgiveness plan will likely be overturned if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.” Kantrowitz adds that in such a case, “if a borrower receives forgiveness, they may get to keep it even if the court blocks the president’s plan.” With all of this being said, it’s especially important for past and current students to keep an eye on who is elected into their local and state government offices.
As midterm elections come around, the Siskiyou hopes that you have remembered to register to vote. While it is too late to register in Oregon for this election cycle (registration closed on October 18, 2022), you can still register for the next round of elections here, or at sos.oregon.gov. For those that have already registered, the voting pamphlet that discusses voters’ rights, current issues, and other important information on elections can be found on their site here in several different languages.