Income-Based Repayment Plan
The information below describes the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan for federal student loans. It includes the IBR eligibility requirements, the benefits of IBR, an IBR payment calculator, and some examples of how a borrower's monthly student loan payment amount can be reduced under IBR.
For additional information on IBR, check out the Income-Based Repayment Q&As. The Q&As are grouped into six categories: General Information, Eligible Loans, Determination of IBR Monthly Payment Amount, Married Borrowers, Application Process, and Other Information. The answers are dated and, as new questions are added or a previous response is updated, we will include a new date.
You may enter IBR if your federal student loan debt is high relative to your income and family size. While your loan servicer will perform the calculation to determine your eligibility, you can use the U.S. Department of Education’s IBR calculator to estimate whether you would likely qualify for the IBR plan. The calculator looks at your income, family size, and state of residence to calculate your IBR monthly payment amount. If that amount is lower than the monthly payment you would be required to pay on your eligible loans under a 10-year standard repayment plan, based on the greater of the amount you owed on your loans when they initially entered repayment or the amount you owe at the time you request IBR, then you are eligible to repay your loans under IBR.
If you are married and you and your spouse file a joint federal tax return, and if your spouse also has IBR-eligible loans, your spouse’s eligible loan debt is taken into account when determining whether you are eligible for IBR. In this case, the required monthly payment amount under a 10-year standard repayment plan is determined based on the combined amount of your IBR-eligible loans and your spouse’s IBR-eligible loans, using the greater of the amount owed when the loans initially entered repayment or the amount owed at the time you or your spouse request IBR. If the combined monthly amount you and your spouse would be required to pay under IBR is lower than the combined monthly amount you and your spouse would pay under a 10-year standard repayment plan, you and your spouse are eligible for IBR.
- PAY AS YOU EARN — Under IBR, your monthly payment amount will be less than the amount you would be required to pay under a 10-year standard repayment plan, and may be less than under other repayment plans. Although lower monthly payments may be of great benefit to a borrower, these lower payments may result in a longer repayment period and additional accrued interest.
- INTEREST PAYMENT BENEFIT — If your monthly IBR payment amount does not cover the interest that accrues on your loans each month, the government will pay your unpaid accrued interest on your Subsidized Stafford Loans (either Direct Loan or FFEL) for up to three consecutive years from the date you began repaying your loans under IBR.
- 25-YEAR CANCELLATION — If you repay under the IBR plan for 25 years and meet certain other requirements, any remaining balance will be canceled.
- 10-YEAR PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS — If you work in public service, on-time, full monthly payments you make under IBR (or certain other repayment plans) while employed full-time in a public service job will count toward the 120 monthly payments that are required to receive loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Through this program, you may be eligible to have the remaining balance of your Direct Loans forgiven after you have made the 120 qualifying as described above. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is available only for Direct Loans. If you have FFEL loans, you may be eligible to consolidate them into the Direct Loan Program to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. However, only the on-time, full monthly payments made under IBR or certain other repayment plans while you are a Direct Loan borrower will count toward the required 120 monthly payments.