At least 1.12 million New Jersey residents have applied for student loan forgiveness, but application rates were not even across towns, an NJ Advance Media analysis of data obtained and published by Politico found.
Data released by the U.S. Department of Education in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by Politico shows where in America the more than 25 million student loan forgiveness applications were filed.
In the Garden State, ZIP codes with higher median incomes tended to have lower application rates, an analysis of New Jersey’s applications showed.
Nationally, most applications came from areas where the median income is less than $35,000, Politico found. Only nine New Jersey ZIP codes included in the data have a median income under $35,000.
Student loan forgiveness is open to unmarried residents earning less than $125,000, or married couples earning less than $250,000.
To determine and analyze application rates, NJ Advance Media overlayed Politico’s data with 2021 U.S. Census data on population size, median household income and highest level of education. Loan forgiveness eligibility is based on either the 2020 or 2021 tax year.
Applications with no ZIP code, and ZIP codes with fewer than 100 applicants were excluded from the data. Just over 20% of New Jersey’s 981 ZIP codes did not have enough data to be included.
Union Township had the highest concentration of applicants, with 153 applications per 1,000 residents. Lakewood had the lowest concentration, with 20 applications per 1,000 residents. (See how many applications were filed in your ZIP code on the map below.)
It’s unclear if any New Jersey student loan holders will ever see debt relief. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday on a pair of federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the program. A decision might not be rendered until the end of June.
Loan payments will restart 60 days after a decision is issued.
Borrowers who did not receive Pell Grants are eligible for up to $10,000 in relief, while those who did are eligible for up to $20,000.
It’s likely some applicants will have student debt without having graduated from college. The data provided to Politico does not break out how many applicants finished the degree programs which they entered, or how many applicants hold Parent Plus loans. About a third of all eligible borrowers are over age 40, according to the Department of Education.
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Katie Kausch may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @KatieKausch.
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