The simple form will be hosted on a .gov website when it goes live later this month, officials said. It will also be available in mobile format and in a Spanish version.
The app only has a handful of questions that ask for basic borrower information: name, social security number, date of birth, phone number, and email address.
Borrowers will be required to tick a box that “certifies under penalty of perjury” that they meet the income threshold for the debt relief program. The relief is available to borrowers whose adjusted gross income in 2020 or 2021 was less than $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples filing taxes jointly.
Income verification has long been a central challenge for the Department of Education as it prepares to implement a means-tested student debt relief program. Although the agency has detailed information on US federal student loans, it lacks income information for most borrowers.
A senior administration official told reporters that the administration’s planned self-certification process would contain “strict fraud prevention measures” that are “risk-based.”
As part of this effort, the Ministry of Education plans to require up to several million borrowers it says have higher incomes and are likely to exceed the income threshold to undergo additional screening before to receive relief.
Those borrowers will need to log in to StudentAid.gov with their federal student aid ID and upload a copy of their tax returns or proof that they didn’t have to file taxes, according to officials and released documents. by the administration. Borrowers will have until March 31, 2024 to submit these documents.
Education Ministry officials have estimated that between 1 million and 5 million borrowers will need to upload their income information as part of this verification process, according to documents posted online by the Office of Management and Development. budget.
The administration declined to detail how it would determine which borrowers would be selected for the additional level of verification. The official only said it would be based on “known characteristics” of borrowers.
“We are confident that these measures – combined with clear communication of eligibility requirements to the public – will result in a simple and straightforward process that will allow eligible borrowers to obtain relief and ensure that ineligible borrowers do not.” , the official told reporters.
Ministry of Education officials also revealed in documents released by the OMB on Tuesday that the agency expects the cost of developing and processing applications for debt relief will cost around $100. million dollars per year.
This figure includes “costs related to website form development, service processing, borrower support, paper form processing and communications related to this effort,” the agency said.
Some GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Virginia Foxx (RN.C.), the top Republican on the House Education Committee, have called on Congress to block the funding needed for the Department of Education to complete the debt relief program.
Administration officials also confirmed on Tuesday that they plan to move forward with plans to begin accepting applications later this month, even amid a barrage of legal challenges from of Republican officials and conservative groups rushing to take their cases to the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Missouri is set to hear arguments on whether to grant a request from GOP attorneys general to halt the program, which they say is an unlawful abuse of executive power.
The Department of Education has sworn in court documents that it will not settle any debts until October 23. A second senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that the administration “will make the form available in October.”
The official also said the Education Department is working with its existing contractors to build capacity for a large influx of web and app traffic at the same time when the process opens.
“We recognize the scale of this project that we are working on and how important it is to 40 million borrowers, their families and their communities and the excitement there is going to be and we anticipate that,” said the manager. .