The Department of Education last Friday night launched a beta version of its Federal student loan debt relief application.

We can’t report much yet about the back-end performance of the system, but the good news for this intrepid reporter interested in debt relief is that the front end of the application only took a few minutes to fill out.

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After the Biden-Harris administration promised up to $20,000 of Federal loan relief for eligible borrowers in late August, the Education Department began ramping up its efforts to create a system that would accommodate relief requests by up to 45 million borrowers.

The beta test, the agency said today, will help officials perfect the process for users before the formal application opens. There’s no official confirmation on a start date, but October 23 has been a widely discussed target.

“This testing period will allow the Department to monitor site performance through real-world use, test the site ahead of the official application launch, refine processes, and uncover any possible bugs prior to official launch,” an Education Department spokesperson told MeriTalk today.

During the beta period, the department’s technical team will be pausing the site at various points for assessments, refinements, and maintenance. The agency reassured that this is a standard practice during beta testing and is an expected part of software development.

One Tester’s Experience

The department did not advertise the release of the beta version of the debt relief application. But social media lit up with people claiming the process was very simple, smooth, and quick. So, I tried it out.

When you access, the department informs you that this is their beta test, but if you fill it out now, you won’t have to reapply when the formal application is made available later this month. However, your application will not be processed until then, the Education Department spokesperson said.

All you need is your basic identifiers: name, social security number, birth date, phone number, and e-mail. They’re doing the rest of the work for you.

After you apply, the agency will send you an email confirmation, review your application, and contact you if they need more information – like your income from last year. Your Federal loan provider will send you an email once your debt has been relieved. According to reports, the whole process may only take a few weeks.

Once it launches, the formal application will close on Dec. 31, 2023. President Biden recommends eligible voters to apply by Nov. 15, 2022 since  the government plans to resume interest and payment obligations on Federal student loans starting Jan. 1, 2023.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.