In a new court filing, Biden said student debt will not be canceled before October 23.
The filing was in response to a lawsuit filed by Republicans trying to block the policy.
A federal judge will hear arguments on whether to halt the debt relief this week.
Student-loan borrowers may not yet know when they can apply for debt cancellation — but they do know relief won’t come until the end of October, at the earliest.
At the end of August, President Joe Biden announced up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year. Many Republicans were not thrilled with the news, leading some to file lawsuits trying to block the policy in court. This week, a federal judge will hear arguments from six Republican-led states whose representatives argued the debt relief will hurt their states’ tax revenues, among other things. Biden’s administration recently filed its first legal defense of the policy in response to that case.
In the filing, borrowers got additional details on how, and when, the plan will be executed. In particular, it is noted that the Education Department will not cancel any student debt before October 23.
“Over the next several weeks, the Department will be taking steps to implement the debt-relief plan, potentially including continuing to communicate with services regarding implementation, sending emails notifying borrowers eligible for automatic relief of their eligibility and the option to opt out, communicating with borrowers and other interested parties concerning debt relief, conducting testing of the application form with members of the general public before the application form is fully launched (including sending emails inviting members of the public to participate in such testing), and announcing and opening the application form,” the filing said.
While the administration did not specifically detail any reasoning for that date, it could be in response to the scheduled hearings on the lawsuits trying to block the policy. Still, an administration official previously told Insider that “we’re charging full speed ahead in getting relief to the borrowers who need it most.”
“We’ve got a dedicated team at the Department of Education working closely with a team here at the White House to get the program up and running,” the official said. “The sign-up period for debt relief will open up this month. It’ll be a short, simple application. We’ve also started communicating directly with borrowers on what to expect in the coming weeks. We’ll have more to share in the coming days.”
The department has so far sent out two email updates to student-loan borrowers in preparation for the application — one detailing that no document uploads will be required to certify income, and the other explaining how borrowers can protect themselves from scams as the application becomes available . It also recommends borrowers submit their forms before mid-November so the relief can be processed before payments resume in January 2023.
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