Social media users began reporting issues with the federal student loan servicer Nelnet following President Joe Biden‘s Wednesday announcement that his administration would provide student debt relief.
Wes Crosby, NHL.com’s Pittsburgh correspondent, tweeted Wednesday that his first attempt to log in to Nelnet was unsuccessful. Twitter user @_amandajensen_ wrote that she had tried to log in to Nelnet to check her student loan balance but was unable to. She also shared a screenshot of a server stating that the page for www.nelnet.com wasn’t working.
Several attempts by Newsweek to access the site were unsuccessful as its login page only partially loaded each time.
When contacted for comment on the complaints and apparent site issues, Nelnet shared the following statement with Newsweek: “We regret borrowers are struggling to find information on the Administration’s debt cancellation plan. Unfortunately, servicers and borrowers are learning about this plan simultaneously through the media. As a result, we don’t have details to share with borrowers who want to know about their eligibility and possible timeline for cancellation when they call in or visit our website. When we have more information, we look forward to supporting our customers through the process.”
Biden has voiced support for providing some level of student debt relief for Americans since his presidential campaign. After facing pressure from his Democratic colleagues and hinting at an upcoming decision several times in recent months, Biden announced that he was following through on the campaign promise.
Biden laid out the major tenets of his plan on Wednesday in an outline posted to Twitter ahead of delivering remarks on the decision at the White House. He said that $10,000 in debt would be forgiven for those who did not receive Pell Grants for college, but those who went to college on Pell Grants could have $20,000 forgiven.
Pell Grants usually are awarded to undergraduate students who show “exceptional financial need” and have not obtained a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree, according to the Federal Student Aid website. Unlike loans, federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances.
Only borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year are eligible for the forgiveness, Biden said.
The Education Department will set up an application process for eligible borrowers to claim the relief before the loan payment freeze concludes at the end of the year, according to a White House fact sheet. Nearly 8 million borrowers may also see an automatic cancellation of their debt because their income data is already available to the Education Department.
In addition to Nelnet, outage reports for the Federal Student Aid site spiked Wednesday afternoon on Downdetector, which tracks the status of websites and services. Biden announced his plan on Twitter at about 11:30 a.m. ET. About an hour later, more than 600 issues with the site had been reported. At about 1:45 p.m., there were 940 outage reports on Downdetector.
Update 8/24/22, 4:15 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and background.