Student Loan  |  September 9, 2022  |  Lisa Litant

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness FAQ: What you need to know

What you'll learn
  • Who may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness
  • Which federal student loans are eligible
  • The process for the forgiveness program
  • Steps you can take now to get ready

The Department of Education (DOE) hasn’t announced details yet about how borrowers can apply for federal student loan forgiveness, and some aspects of the plan are still evolving. Here’s what we know today about the federal student loan forgiveness plan:
 

1.  Who qualifies for federal student loan forgiveness?


a
.  If you borrowed money to pay for college, you probably have a federal student loan. Roughly 93% of the $1.7 trillion in student loans today are federal. The remaining 7% of student loans are private student loans. They’re issued by banks like Sallie Mae, credit unions, and state agencies, and are often taken out after customers get federal loans. Private student loans are not eligible for the federal student debt forgiveness plan.
 

b.  Federal student loan borrowers who earn under $125,000—or under $250,000 if they’re married and file taxes jointly or if they’re the head of a household—may qualify for $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness. Your eligibility is based on your adjusted gross income from 2020 or 2021.

c.  If you used federal Pell Grants to help pay for higher education and meet these income figures, you’re eligible to have another $10,000 (for a total of $20,000) in federal student loans forgiven.

Note: Pell Grants are need-based financial aid that don’t have to be paid back. To see if you previously received a Pell Grant, check your financial aid history by logging into the DOE website


2.  Which federal student loans are eligible?


a.  Federal student loans made by the government, like Direct Subsidized Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, are eligible.


b.  Federal Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS Loans are also eligible if borrowers meet the same income criteria. Federal student loans that are delinquent or in default may be eligible for forgiveness if borrowers meet the same income criteria.


c.  Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) may be eligible for forgiveness if your loan payments were paused during the federal loan payment relief program. Contact your servicer for information on what you’ll need to do.
 

3.  OK…my loans are eligible. Now what?


a
.  Right now, there’s not much to do until the DOE releases information about how to apply for federal student loan forgiveness; this is expected by year-end. One thing you can do now is sign up for updates from the DOE at https://www.ed.gov/subscriptions.

b.  Now’s the time to get prepared. Go to your federal loan servicer’s website and log in to your account. Make sure your contact info is up to date—that’ll make sure you get all their communications, including what’s going on with your loan forgiveness.

c.  Can’t remember who your federal student loan servicer is? Visit studentaid.gov’s “Who’s my student loan servicer?” page. You can also log in and get your servicer information from your account.
 

4.  Are my federal loans eligible even if I didn’t get my degree?


Yes, since you still have to repay the loans, they qualify for the program as long as they’re eligible under the general guidelines explained above.


5.  I’ve already paid off my federal loan; can I get reimbursed?


No, the cancellation program isn’t retroactive. If you finished paying off your eligible federal student loan prior to March 13, 2020 (when the federal loan payment pause started), you won’t get a refund. If you made payments from March 13, 2020 on, however, you may be eligible for the amount of the payments you made during that period. (If you don’t remember when you made payments, log in to your servicer account and check out your payment history.) You may have to request the refund, so check with your servicer.

6.  How about loans I took out this year or ones I’m taking out next year? 


For now, only federal student loans made before June 30, 2022, are eligible. Again, you’ll have to meet the income requirements.
 

7.  Will I have to pay taxes on any of this?


Federal student loan forgiveness shouldn’t be considered as taxable income for federal taxes. It may be different for state taxes, so check with your state for more information.
 

Quick tips

  • Put together a list of your federal loans and their servicers.
  • Make sure your servicer has your current contact info so you can be sure to get any communications they send.
  • Subscribe to the Department of Education for updates on federal student loan forgiveness at https://www.ed.gov/subscriptions.
  • Be prepared to fill out an application to request the cancellation sometime around October.
  • Keep checking your account(s) toward the end of the year to see when the cancellation is processed. Keep records of your communications, applications, and account balances in case you need to back up any claims later.

Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

External links and third-party references are provided for informational purposes only. Sallie Mae cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any third parties, and Sallie Mae assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained therein. Any copyrights, trademarks and/or service marks used in these materials are the property of their respective owners.