The federal website where some current and former students may apply for college loan forgiveness launched Friday night. University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson says for several weeks the university’s financial aid office has been fielding calls from students making preparations.

“Trying to figure out if they qualify, under what respects, whether they qualify for $10,000 or $20,000,” she says, “and we’re there for them to try to help them sort it out.”

Wilson says she’s unsure how many current students on her campus qualify.

Iowa State University president Wendy Wintersteen says 43% of ISU students graduate without debt. “Those that do have debt have average debt of about $29,500 would be a pretty close figure,” Wintersteen says.

Wintersteen has been cautioning ISU students about potential scams and to wait for the federal website to apply for student loan forgiveness. Earlier this year, federal lawmakers increased the maximum size of a Pell Grant by $400, but Wintersteen notes a year ago, federal officials had discussed doubling the Pell Grant.

“That would make a tremendous difference whose family really don’t have the capacity to send their students to college without taking out significant loans, it would have helped them really directly into the future for a long time,” Wintersteen says.

The University of Iowa’s president also contrasts the one-time student debt forgiveness plan with Pell Grants. “I am hopeful at the federal level we really take a look at Pell Grants,” Wilson says. “because if we can increase Pell Grant funding from students from low income families, that will be a much longer path to affordability for students.”

Wilson and Wintersteen made their comments during recent appearances on Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.

According to the Biden Administration, over 400,000 Iowa borrowers are eligible for student loan forgiveness and 61 percent of them are Pell Grant recipients who qualify for 20-thousand dollars in debt forgiveness.