Student loan debt relief is here, but Republicans are trying to stop it from happening. You should sign up now anyway.
In August of this year, President Biden announced that millions of people would be getting some or all of their student loans forgiven, up to $20,000 depending on their circumstances.
The reasons for this were given as, and I quote:
Since 1980, the total cost of both four-year public and four-year private college has nearly tripled, even after accounting for inflation…The skyrocketing cumulative federal student loan debt—$1.6 trillion and rising for more than 45 million borrowers—is a significant burden on America’s middle class. Middle-class borrowers struggle with high monthly payments and ballooning balances that make it harder for them to build wealth, like buying homes, putting away money for retirement, and starting small businesses.
With tuition rising much faster than wages, and with student loan borrowing a slow motion crisis leading not only to potential mass default, but also a failure for millions of borrowers to get ahead financially, this seemed a no-brainer.
This was seen, by and large, as a triumph, albeit a moderate one. Progressives wanted more to be forgiven, with people like Elizabeth Warren agitating for $50,000.
But it was still better than nothing.
Some noted the political aspect of the timing, coming right before the upcoming midterms, but other analysts rightly noted that younger people with student loans weren’t likely to be swing voters anyway.
Could it be that this was a win-win situation? After all, helping millions of people find better financial footing so that they could do economically useful things like home-buying and starting businesses, seems like a situation where everyone wins.
But unfortunately, for Republicans, these people who benefit are the wrong kind of people. Unlike the 2017 tax cuts, which the vast majority of the gains went to higher earners, these benefits are going to those who could really use it.
Anyway, here’s the TL;DR for you, if you have student loans:
- The sign-up form for debt relief is now open.
- The debt relief plan is temporarily blocked from going ahead.
- You can—and should—sign up now anyway.
The process is very simple. I’ll step you through it.
Table of Contents
Here is the form. Click here and fill it out. It’s very simple, only a few questions.
Note that you may technically not need to fill out this form. The reason you would fill it out is so that the Department of Education has your income information, which determines your eligibility. But if you have loans that are in some form of Income-Driven Repayment, they likely already have it.
Fill it out anyway, even if you don’t think you have to. There is serious money on the line.
For eligibility, your income (specifically, your Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI) for either of the tax years 2020 or 2021 was:
- Less than $125,000 if single or married filing separately
- Less than $250,000 if married filing jointly or head of household.
If you’re not sure, check your tax forms. Your AGI is on line 11 of Form 1040.
And you need to have “federal” student loans. Private student loans are, unfortunately, not applicable.
You will be eligible for up to $10,000 of debt forgiveness, unless you also received a federal Pell grant, in which case you may be eligible for up to $20,0000 of debt forgiveness.
What will happen next?
No one knows. Originally, the debt relief was supposed to happen either by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, before loan payments restarted. But now, it’s anyone’s guess.
Assuming that the states are determined to not have standing, the block will be lifted and the debt relief will go ahead as planned. If you have already filled out your application, you won’t have to do anything else.
Who could possibly not want this to happen?
After the debt relief announcement, six Republican led-states filed suit to stop this from happening, claiming that the debt relief program would materially harm their state finances.
And also, that the administration doesn’t have the legal standing to cancel federally-held student debt.
Now, we all know that Republicans are very much supporters of the rule of law.
But it’s also an internal consistency on some level. The same people who believe that women shouldn’t be able to have control over their bodies, and who believe that the rich should pay less in taxes while everyone else should subsidize that, clearly should also believe that those who took out onerous student loans shouldn’t be helped either. Many of those same people are flagrantly against higher education in the first place.
With that in mind, please let me remind you Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2000 and that early voting is now underway in many states. So I guess you have two tasks now:
Do both right now. Don’t wait.