President Joe Biden cancelled $1.5 billion of student loans through this program, and you can still apply now.
Here’s what you need to know.
While Biden hasn’t enacted wide-scale student loan cancellation, there is hope for student loan borrowers to get student loan forgiveness through borrower defense to student loan repayment. Since becoming president, Biden has now cancelled nearly $10 billion of student loans. This includes $1.5 billion of student loan cancellation for 92,000 student loan borrowers under the borrower defense to repayment rule. In July, Biden cancelled $55.6 million of student loans for 1,800+ student loan borrower under borrower defense to repayment. This Obama-era rule is still available now and could help you get partial or total student loan cancellation. Here’s what you need to know and how to apply:
1. What is borrower defense to repayment?
Under federal law, if your college or university misled you or engaged in other misconduct, you may be eligible for borrower defense to student loan repayment. Borrower defense to repayment can result in student loan cancellation of some or all of your federal student loan debt. Borrower defense to repayment doesn’t apply to your private student loans.
2. Are all federal student loans eligible for student loan cancellation?
No. Only Direct Loans are eligible for borrower defense to repayment. That means FFELP Loans or Perkins Loans are ineligible. (If you’re ineligible or Biden doesn’t cancel your student loans, do these 3 things).
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3. How do I apply for borrower defense to repayment?
You can apply for borrower defense to repayment by completing a Borrower Defense To Repayment Application through the U.S. Department of Education. You can apply in one of three ways. You can email your application, submit the application through Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department, or by mail. The application takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you were misled by multiple schools, you should complete one application for each school.
4. Who is eligible to apply for borrower defense to repayment?
Any student loan borrower with Direct Loans who feels they were misled by their college or university can apply. This can include acts or omissions by your school.
5. What do I need to apply for borrower defense to repayment?
To apply for borrower defense to repayment, you will need:
- a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID
- name of college or university
- program name, degree or course of study
- dates of attendance
- documentation to support your claim
6. What if I don’t have documentation to support my claim of borrower defense to repayment?
Your application for borrower defense to repayment may be strengthened if you have documentation to support your claim. This may include promotional materials from the school that include data on employment statistics, income after attendance, or other guarantees or promises, for example. Documentation also may include correspondence you had with the school, which included specific promises to you that weren’t fulfilled, or any prior complaints that you made to the school. You may want to include your transcript to prove attendance. If you don’t have any such documentation, you can still apply and share your story.
7. What if I have questions on my borrower defense to repayment application?
If you have questions on your borrower defense to repayment application, you can call the Borrower Defense Hotline at 1-855-279-6207. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. You can also confirm that your application has been submitted properly.
8. How will I be notified if my claim for student loan cancellation has been approved?
The U.S. Department of Education will notify borrower defense applicants through email of the Education Department’s determination regarding student loan cancellation based on your specific case. A final determination may include total student loan cancellation or partial student loan cancellation. In some cases, student loan borrowers also may be eligible for a refund of prior student loan payments already made on the student loans that are discharged. (Here’s how to get student loan forgiveness).
9. Are there any organizations that are helping student loan borrowers who have been misled by their college or university?
Student loan cancellation has happened thanks in part to these heroes. There are also many non-profit organizations who have helped lead the charge and defend the rights of student loan borrowers, including those who have been misled by their college or university. These champion advocates are shaping the future of student loans and tirelessly working to ensure that student loan borrowers get a fair shake. There are many to recognize, but some include the Project on Student Lending at Harvard Law School, Student Debt Crisis and Student Borrower Protection Center, among others.
The Biden administration will continue to cancel student loans under borrower defense to repayment. This is an addition to other student loan cancellation that the Education Department, led by Secretary Miguel Cardona, has already completed, including billions of dollars for student loan borrowers with a total and permanent disability. If you’re not eligible for any of this student loan cancellation, make sure you understand your other options for student loan repayment. Student loan relief is ending within months, so make sure you’re prepared.
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Disclosure: Zack Friedman is a graduate of Harvard.