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Federal Student Aid Website Went Down After an Influx of Visitors Crashed It

Jennifer Farrington - Author
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Aug. 26 2022, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

After President Joe Biden announced on August 24, 2022, that he would extend student loan forgiveness to qualifying borrowers, it sent many eager to reduce their debt to the Federal Student Aid website. To their surprise, they encountered a site they couldn’t access.

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Here’s why federal student aid websites are experiencing outages and a look at how much of your student loan debt can be forgiven.

The Federal Student Aid website may take longer to load due to “high volumes of visitors.”

person waiting for their computer to load
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If you’re one of the 43 million Americans who have student loan debt, there’s a good chance you attempted to visit the FAFSA website following Biden’s student loan forgiveness announcement. While some were likely looking to access the website to see if their student loan balance had decreased, others may have been seeking information on how to request loan forgiveness.

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Either way, the FAFSA website, among other federal student aid websites, received an influx of visitors causing the sites to malfunction. Similar to how other websites lag during a new product launch, the FAFSA site had people sitting in a “waiting room” for several minutes before they could access general information. Others weren’t even lucky enough to get this far.

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The Federal Student Aid website is back up and running.

Although the FAFSA website appears to be back up and running, you might find that it takes you longer than usual to navigate through pages. The Federal Student Aid website has displayed at the top of the homepage a warning message that reads “A lot of people are interested in our website. As a result, some pages may take longer to display than usual. Thank you for your patience.”

How do I apply for student loan forgiveness?

Because Biden’s plan to eliminate some student loan debt was recently announced, there isn’t yet a way for you to apply for forgiveness. However, the Federal Student Aid website does state that about 8 million borrowers may be entitled to receive relief automatically. This is because the U.S. Department of Education already has access to current income data.

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In the event the U.S. Department of Education doesn't have your current income information on file, the administration says it will be “launching a simple application in the coming weeks.”

How much of my student loan debt can be forgiven?

Under Biden’s student loan forgiveness initiative, undergraduate and graduate borrowers who earn less than $125,000 may be entitled to have $10,000 of their student loan debt forgiven. The income cap increases to $250,000 if you’re married and file your taxes with your spouse. Those who borrowed pell grants may be eligible to have $20,000 of their student loan debt forgiven.

Anyone who took out a private student loan won’t be entitled to have any of their debt forgiven.

In addition to wiping away thousands of dollars in student loan debt for millions of borrowers, the Biden-Harris administration has also extended the student loan repayment pause through December 31, 2022. This means student loan payments are set to resume in January 2023.

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