Consumer Alert: Are you among those eligible for student debt relief?

Consumer Alert: Are you eligible for student debt relief?

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About 74,000 Americans just learned they no longer owe the federal government for their college education.

It comes following an announcement from President Biden last week.

You’ll remember the Supreme Court struck down the President’s sweeping student loan forgiveness plan last summer. Since then, the President has presented smaller plans aimed at targeted groups.

Many of you have questions about whether you’re in one of those groups. So let me explain.

By targeting loan relief, the Biden administration has wiped out the student loans of  3.7 million people. Here are the groups included so far:

  • The administration forgave the loans of 513,000 people with permanent disabilities.
  • 1.3 million folks attended lousy for-profit schools that took their money and gave them nothing in return. Their loans were forgiven as well.
  • The President’s latest action wipes out almost $5 billion of debt for almost 74,000 people

“So the latest program from the Biden administration is really trying to target those who have been paying a long time and public service workers. so those that have been paying for 20-plus years and those in public service like nurses, firefighters, and other public service who’ve been paying for 10 years,” said Leslie Tayne, New York financial attorney.

So to be clear, there are two categories in this new group.

The first is public servants like government workers, teachers, and police officers who have been paying on a loan for 10 years. Now the rest of the loan is wiped away.

The second group is folks in any profession who have been paying on their loan for 20 years and still haven’t paid it off. The rest of the debt is now gone.

But for both groups, there is one caveat.

“Just because you have student loan debt but you weren’t making payments, you would not qualify for these programs — which is why we’re recommending that you try to make payments the best you can, even minimum payments, so that if new programs roll out, usually those who have been paying will qualify,” Tayne said.

That means if you defaulted on your loan — even if you fall in one of these groups — you won’t be offered loan forgiveness.

And, Tayne said, even if you believe you qualify, you should continue to pay until you know for certain that the loan has been dismissed.

Those who qualify should hear from the Department of Education in the coming weeks. If you believe you qualify and a month has gone by and you haven’t heard anything, reach out to your loan servicer.