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What Are Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans?

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans are a great option if your monthly payment feels high compared to your income. These plans can make payments more manageable, help you make progress on your loan, and provide flexibility as your income changes.

There are four IDR Plans available, all of which come with different features based on your needs. We explain the qualifications for each plan below. All IDR Plans are eligible options to help you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (a program available to eligible borrowers who work in public/nonprofit jobs).

Watch these videos for a quick introduction to IDR Plans.

  • This video is a basic overview of the IDR Plans.

  • A deeper look into how IDR Plans can help you repay your student loans.

Download the Full Guide to Repayment Plans

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What Information Do I Gather Before Applying?

There are a few things you’ll need to have ready 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.

Here’s What You’ll Need

Use your FSA ID to sign in to the StudentLoans.gov website and start your Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request. If you don't have an FSA ID, visit www.fsaid.ed.gov.

You can also watch these videos for more information about the documents you’ll need to apply for IDR Plans.

Note: If you are separated from your spouse or unable to easily access your spouse's income information, refer to the Single Borrowers video.

How to Apply

For a step-by-step guide to filling out the IDR Plan application, watch this video as you complete the form.

To apply for an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan, go to StudentAid.gov. To estimate your monthly payment under IDR, log in to your Nelnet.com account.

Apply at StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action

What Is Recertification?

Since circumstances can change from one year to the next, you must recertify your information annually to continue under an IDR Plan. This information includes income and family size. A change in one or both of these variables can change your monthly payment amount. Don’t forget to submit the applicable documentation each year before your recertification date.

Go to StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action to complete the recertification process.

What Are the Four IDR Plans?

Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment (REPAYE)

This repayment plan, known as REPAYE, is for certain Direct Loans only. Your monthly payment amount is based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total eligible federal student loan balance, and will generally be 10 percent of your discretionary income. Your remaining loan balance is eligible for forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments, depending on your type of study (undergraduate or graduate/professional). Please note that some student loans are not eligible for this plan, including: Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans, and Federal Direct Consolidation Loans containing at least one Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan.

Visit StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action or log in to your Nelnet.com account to see if you are eligible for the REPAYE Plan.

Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE)

This repayment plan, known as PAYE, is for Direct Loans only. Your monthly payment amount is based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total federal student loan balance, and will generally be 10 percent of your discretionary income. This plan requires that you have a “partial financial hardship” as defined on the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request. Your remaining loan balance is eligible for forgiveness after 20 years of qualifying payments. You’ll need to meet the following criteria to be eligible:

  • You must have at least one eligible Direct Loan first disbursed on or after October 1, 2011.
  • You must have been a new borrower as of October 1, 2007, meaning you must not have had an outstanding balance on a FFELP or Direct student loan when you received a FFELP or Direct loan on or after October 1, 2007.

Visit StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action or log in to your Nelnet.com account to see if you are eligible for the PAYE Plan.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

This repayment plan, known as IBR, is for both FFELP and Direct Loans. Your payment amount is based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total student loan debt. Your monthly payment amount will generally be 10 or 15 percent of your discretionary income (depending on your loans’ disbursement dates). This plan requires that you have a “partial financial hardship” as defined on the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request. After 20 or 25 years (depending on the terms of your loan) of qualifying payments, your remaining loan balance is eligible for forgiveness. Parent PLUS loans and consolidation loans (which include at least one parent PLUS loan) do not qualify for this plan.

Visit StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action or log in to your Nelnet.com account to see if you are eligible for the IBR Plan.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

This plan, known as ICR, is for Direct Loans only, and your payments are based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and total Direct Loan balance (excluding parent PLUS loans). Your remaining loan balance is eligible for forgiveness after 25 years of qualifying payments. Parent PLUS loans and consolidation loans containing parent PLUS loans that entered repayment before 2006 do not qualify.

Visit StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action or log in to your Nelnet.com account to see if you are eligible for the ICR Plan.

To apply for an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan, go to StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action. To estimate your monthly payment under IDR, log in to your Nelnet.com account.

Apply at StudentAid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action

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