GV students express confusion over debt relief process as application period approaches


GVL / Sydney Lim

Michaela Triemstra, Staff Writer

Following the Biden-Harris administration’s announcement of a Student Debt Relief plan targeted toward low- and middle-income families, students at Grand Valley State University have been given the opportunity to receive up to $20,000 in student loan debt relief.

As the October introduction of debt relief applications approaches for GVSU students and the approximately 1.3 million Michiganders eligible to receive student loan debt relief, members of the campus community have expressed concern regarding what they believe to be a confusing application process.

As part of the plan, the U.S. Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 to those who have received a Federal Pell Grant of any amount at any time, and up to $10,000 to people who have not received a Federal Pell Grant.

However, some students said they do not feel prepared to fill out the application, or even know if they are eligible. The Department of Education provided information about the process, but some aspects of the application are not clear according to some students.

 “To be honest, the process is really confusing,” said GVSU sophomore Anthony Erlandson. “I feel underprepared to fill out the application.”

To ease potential complications, the Department of Education has sought to provide borrowers with a bounty of information pertaining to eligibility and the application process.

Students can check if they have received a Pell Grant by logging into studentaid.gov and going to “My Aid” on the account dashboard.

Before the application becomes available, loan recipients are encouraged to check their eligibility and prepare for what the application will entail. People are eligible to apply for student debt relief if their annual federal income was below $125,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a couple filing jointly.

For students who want to apply for debt relief and have filed as a dependent student between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, their eligibility is based on their parent’s income.

Some students, like GVSU junior Lily Camp, however, find the process intimidating based on the large amount of information and the many requirements outlined by the federal government.

“The information about the process has a lot of government jargon that makes it difficult to understand,” Camp said. “The amount of information being released is more harmful than helpful.”

Seeking to simplify criteria and application steps for students like Camp, the Department of Education has sought to further explain and clarify the steps involved in the process.

According to the Federal Student Aid webpage on the debt relief plan, the Department of Education has the income data on hand for about 8 million borrowers. These borrowers will receive the debt relief automatically without having to apply and can expect to receive an email or text message informing them about the automatic debt relief. Other borrowers can prepare for the application process before it opens.

To prepare for the application, students must sign into their account or create one on studentaid.gov and update their contact information.

Federal Student Aid also details that students and parents can subscribe to updates on the application and when it opens on that website. A confirmation email will be sent once the application is completed.

Students should also make sure their loan servicer has all of their current contact information. If students do not know who their loan servicer is, they can find out in their account dashboard. Borrowers will be contacted by their loan servicers when the relief has been applied to their accounts.

GVSU’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships also recommends students go to studentaid.gov for more information about student debt relief and the application process. The online application is expected to be available in early October.

Federal Student Aid advises borrowers to complete their applications by mid-November to receive debt relief before the pause on loan payments expires on Dec. 31.