Income-driven Repayment - What Is It? How Do I Get It?
What Is It?
Income-driven repayment (IDR) 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 (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). In general, here's how they work.
- You need to complete the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request on StudentAid.gov and provide specific information to qualify.
- Each year you'll need to recertify, 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 recertify 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.
Looking for specific plan information? Review the details of each IDR plan.
What Do I Gather Before Applying?
There are a few things to gather before you complete the Income-Driven 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
Federal Student Aid ID or Verified Email or Phone Number
Spouse Information (if you're married)
Documentation Help for Single Borrowers
Documentation Help for Married Borrowers
The best way to apply is online at StudentAid.gov 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
arrow to next stage
- 4 of 4 StudentAid.gov stage
- The first step is to log into your mygreatlakes.org account and start at Repayment Options. 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 StudentAid.gov so you can complete your Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request. Or, if you must submit a paper request, you'll be asked to download the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request, complete it, and submit it to us.
Make sure you've gathered all of the information you'll need to apply.
Once you start the StudentAid.gov request, the process takes about 30 minutes and must be completed in one session.
Why Must I Recertify 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 recertify so your monthly payment amount can be recalculated. If you don't recertify, your payment may increase and any unpaid interest will be capitalized, or added to your principal balance.
You can also request to have your monthly payment amount recalculated if your financial circumstances drastically change before your annual recertification date. To get started, see What Do I Gather Before Applying?. If you still have additional questions, our Income-Driven Repayment section in FAQs can help.
Free Expert Help!
You don't have to pay for student loan services or advice. Our expert representatives have access to your latest student loan information and understand all of your options. Learn more about the free services available to you.