The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of outstanding student loans to the federal government will increase by about $400 billion due to executive action canceling some of the outstanding debt.

The action canceled up to $10,000 of debt issued by June 30, 2022 for borrowers with income below specified limits and an additional $10,000 for borrowers who also received at least one Pell grant.

Last week, the federal government announced that approximately 813,000 Massachusetts residents were eligible for student debt relief. Now we get details on the application process as well as warnings about scams to be aware of and offers that could set you back.

If you think you qualify for federal debt relief for student loans, you should apply for it. Nothing arrives in the mail. The US Department of Education says start here at studentaid.gov/debtrelief and sign up for alerts.

“They can sign up to receive notifications that will let them know when the application portal is available,” said Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, Jordan Matsudaira. “This application portal will go live in October. And once it goes live, borrowers can just go to this application portal to fill out a simple attestation form. Borrowers will be eligible if they earn less than $125,000 or if they are married, if they have joint income, it is less than $250,000.

If approved, the Federal Government estimates that it will take 4-6 weeks to process cancellations. They suggest you apply by November 15, 2022 or 4-6 weeks before the break on federal student loan repayments ends.

Official federal applications are not yet online. But people are being bombarded with text messages and emails encouraging them to check their eligibility through third-party providers.

“What I want your viewers to know is that they should never have to pay for this benefit,” Matsudaira said.

“Don’t take the bait,” says Rep. Ayanna Pressley, (D)MA-7.

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who has been advocating for this program for years, takes her warning one step further. She says even offers from legitimate lenders to refinance current student loans could cost you dearly.

“You will not be eligible for debt relief. So we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible for this debt relief has access to it. Pressley warns that a federal student loan refinanced with a private lender is then a private loan, therefore ineligible.

Republicans are discussing legal challenges to this entire program. But the Department for Education is moving forward saying it is confident it is on a solid legal footing.

The program runs until December 2023.

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