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Following President Joe Biden’s recent student loan forgiveness announcement, many borrowers are wondering exactly how much debt cancellation they qualify for. That’s because the amount you receive is based on the type of financial aid you used to pay for your education.
Borrowers with federal student loans qualify for up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness, while those who received a Pell Grant in school get double that amount—as much as $20,000 of their debt can be erased. You must also earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household) to be eligible.
If you’re left wondering what type of aid you used to pay for school years ago, here’s how to check.
How to Find Out If You Received a Pell Grant
It’s simple to figure out what type of financial aid you used to pay for college. To start, follow these steps:
- Log into the Federal Student Aid site. You can enter your username, phone number or email address in the correct field, followed by your password. If you don’t remember your login credentials, click the “Forgot my username” or “Forgot my password” link and follow the prompts.
- View financial aid details. Once you’ve accessed your account, visit the “Aid Summary” page for all the details of your financial aid. Both your student loans and any Pell Grants you received will appear here. You can view more details about your aid, including how much you received and the payoff status of your loans, on this page.
- Submit application when available. After you verify the type of aid you have, you don’t need to take any further steps now. Most borrowers will need to submit an application to receive loan forgiveness, but this form is not yet available. You can sign up for email updates from the Department of Education if you’d like to be notified when the application form is released.
If the Department of Education already has recent income information for you, your forgiveness should be processed automatically. However, when that forgiveness will occur has not yet been announced.
Tip: There have been reports of the Federal Student Aid site crashing, thanks to the influx of borrowers checking their accounts after the forgiveness announcement. If that occurs, wait a while and try logging in again later.
What Is a Pell Grant?
A Pell Grant is a form of federal student aid that does not have to be repaid. It’s offered to students with exceptional financial need, which is determined by their household’s income. How much you can receive through a Pell Grant is adjusted every year; for the 2022-23 school year, the maximum award is $6,895. To determine the amount of your grant, your expected family contribution, enrollment status and school’s cost of attendance are factored in.
Pell Grants also have a lifetime limit to the amount you can receive over the course of your education. You may be awarded this grant for a maximum of 12 school terms or the equivalent of six years. Each year, your grant amount will be recalculated.
To be considered for a Pell Grant, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each year you attend school.
During the 2019-20 school year, 94% of Pell Grant recipients came from families earning $60,000 or less. Those with Pell Grants make up more than 60% of federal student loan borrowers, according to the White House, and about 27 million borrowers will be eligible for $20,000 in student loan forgiveness after receiving these grants.