Income-Driven Repayment: What Is It?

Income-Driven Repayment: What Is It? How Do I Get It?

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What Is It?

Income-driven repayment plans make it easier for federal student loan borrowers to pay back loans if your debt is high compared to your income. They're based on your income, family size, the state you live in, and federal student loan type.

The main plans are Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn, and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). In general, here's how they work.

  • You need to complete the IBR/Pay As You Earn/ICR Repayment Plan Request on StudentLoans.gov and provide specific information to qualify.
  • Each year you'll need to reapply, in order to remain eligible for the lowest possible monthly payment amount. As your income, family size, or state of residence change, so will your monthly payment amount.
  • Your exact plan varies based on your loan types and specific situation. If you reapply each year and qualify, you may have reduced monthly payments for up to 25 years. Any remaining balance may be forgiven. However, you may be required to pay income tax on the amount that's forgiven.
  • Because income-driven repayment plans generally extend the payment period, you may pay more interest over the life of your loan.
Keep in mind that your income-driven repayment application will not be processed if you're still in school more than half-time or if you have more than 90 days left in your grace period because your income documentation would expire before your repayment plan is effective. We recommend waiting to submit your income-driven repayment application until your loan is within 90 days of entering repayment.

What Do I Gather Before Applying?

There are a few things to gather before you complete the IBR/Pay As You Earn/ICR Repayment Plan Request. In this section, we'll share what those things are and tell you the process for making the request. In the Apply Now! section, we'll get you started on the request itself.

Here's What You'll Need

Open Section Federal Student Aid ID

Open Section Personal Information

Open Section Spouse Information (if you're married)

Open Section Income Information

Apply Now!

You're encouraged to apply online because it's faster, easier, and helps ensure your information is complete and that the processing will be timely.

  • 1 of 4 Select Stage
  • 2 of 4 Review Stage
  • 3 of 4 Next Steps Stage
Next Step
  • StudentLoans.gov

  • The first step is to log into your mygreatlakes.org account and start at My Repayment Plan. You can compare plans and will be asked to select the loans for which you want to change repayment plans.
  • Then, we'll link you to StudentLoans.gov so you can complete your IBR/Pay As You Earn/ICR Repayment Plan Request. Or, if you decide to submit a paper request, you'll be able to download the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request and be asked to complete it and mail it to us.

Make sure you've gathered all of the information you'll need to apply.

Once you start the StudentLoans.gov request, the process takes about 30 minutes and must be completed in one session.


Why Must I Reapply Every Year and Submit New Documentation?

Monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan are based on your adjusted gross income (AGI), family size, and the state you live in. Since these items can change, your payments will change along with them. Each year you're required to reapply so your monthly payment amount can be recalculated. Or, if your income circumstances drastically change before your annual renewal date, you can request to have your monthly payment amount recalculated. Either way, go to What Do I Gather Before Applying? for a refresher on how to get started.


If you still have additional questions, our Income-Driven Repayment section in Frequently Asked Questions can help.

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