President Joe Biden’s administration has released applications for people seeking up to $20,000 in student debt relief as the government moves forward with the scheme after surviving initial court challenges.
The administration has published the application form, which has boxes for information such as name, social security number, and date of birth.
Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, a Biden appointee, announced the scheme in September. People are eligible for relief if they make less than $125,000 annually, or are married and make less than $250,000 annually as a couple.
People applying for the program are warned that by signing the form, they’re certifying “under the penalty of perjury” that all of the information is correct. That means they could get in trouble if they claim to be eligible but are not.
A separate document for verifying a person’s income has also been released. It says an applier must provide a tax return or tax return transcript from the IRS from 2020 or 2021. Alternatively, people can provide IRS verification of non-filing status if they did not file a return.
A third form is for parents who have to attest to their income. That form comes into play if their dependent child asks for student debt cancellation.
Parents are subject to the same income requirements. Dependents of single parents are only eligible if their parent makes less than $125,000 annually. Dependents of married parents are only eligible if their parents make less than $250,000 annually.
The income limits are for 2020 or 2021.
Officials have said they hope to start canceling debt in October.
Tens of millions of Americans were expected to be eligible, though the administration quietly scaled back eligibility in late September.
Officials allege the relief is allowed under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003. That law lets the education secretary take certain actions during a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency, officials say.
Multiple legal challenges have been filed against the scheme, asserting the pandemic does not meet the definition of an emergency.
Several of the lawsuits have been thrown out, including a Wisconsin suit based on a judge’s conclusion that the plaintiffs lacked standing.
Others are still moving forward which could lead to the program being blocked temporarily or permanently.
One suit, filed by Nebraska and five other states, is set for oral arguments on plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The arguments will be livestreamed on Oct. 12. In another case, plaintiffs were ordered to meet and provide a proposed schedule to address a motion for an injunction, producing the report no later than Oct. 17.