Student Loan Moratorium Ending: What Are Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans and How Do You Apply?

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Federal student loan borrowers will soon have to resume making payments after a long moratorium that allowed them to put those payments on hold. However, there are some options that can ease the financial burden, including income-driven repayment plans.

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IDR plans are designed to make it easier for federal student loan borrowers to pay back loans if their debt is high compared to their income. Payments under the program are based on income, family size, state of residency and federal student loan type, according to Great Lakes Educational Loan Services.

The plans are administered by Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education. Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one IDR plan, the agency says. If your income is low enough, your payment could be $0 per month.

There are several different plans to choose from: Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn, Revised Pay As You Earn and Income-Contingent Repayment. To apply, complete the income-driven repayment plan request on and provide the requested information to qualify.

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You’ll need to recertify each year to remain eligible for the lowest possible monthly payment amount. If your income, family size or state of residence changes, 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 could have reduced monthly payments for up to 25 years. And any remaining balance might be forgiven. However, IDR plans typically extend the payment period, so you might pay more interest over the life of your loan.

There are some things you’ll need to round up before you complete the income-driven repayment plan request:

  • Federal student aid ID or verified email or phone number
  • Personal iInformation
  • Spouse’s information, if applicable
  • Income information

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The best way to apply is online at because it’s faster and easier and helps ensure your information is complete and that the processing will be timely.

Save for Your Future

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to meet your monthly student loan obligations when the moratorium ends, now might be a good time to apply for an IDR plan. As GOBankingRates reported this week, federal student loan payments have been on hold since March 2020, including accruing interest and collections on defaulted loans, but that moratorium is scheduled to end on Jan. 31.

Even so, payments might still look different in 2022 than they did before the moratorium was put in place. For one thing, the Department of Education will be implementing a new federal student loan repayment system to allow direct federal student loan borrowers to manage their loans through a repayment portal on Borrowers will be able to apply for, manage and repay their loans through the portal regardless of their federal student loan servicer.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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