Skip to main content

Income-Driven Repayment

Income-driven repayment (IDR) is meant to be a key protection that sets federal student loan borrowers’ monthly bill at an affordable amount determined by their income, not by their loan balance. Nearly 10 million borrowers rely on this program as an eventual pathway out from under historic levels of student debt.  


Unfortunately, IDR has failed millions of borrowers in dire need of relief that the program promised to provide.  Widespread breakdowns and illegal practices by loan servicers, combined with short-sighted and inadequate program design  have left millions of borrowers saddled with debts they cannot afford or escape even after years of repayment. The SBPC and partners are working to shine a light on breakdowns and policy choices that have left perhaps the most critical element of the student loan safety net broken.

IDR Paper Series: Improving & Delivering Relief

This paper series explores ways to strengthen the  IDR program, including as it relates to affordability, increased enrollment, and increased borrower protections.

Driving Runaway Debt: How IDR’s Current Design Buries Borrowers Under Billions of Dollars in Unaffordable Interest

This report highlights how the design of the main protection meant to deliver affordability to federal student loan borrowers, Income-Driven Repayment (IDR), ignores the widespread effects that runaway student loan balances have across borrowers’ financial lives.


Driving Unaffordability: How Income-Driven Repayment Currently Fails to Deliver Financial Security to Student Loan Borrowers

This report highlights how the payment formulas currently underlying Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) can harm low to middle-income borrowers, forcing them to choose between meeting basic needs and paying their monthly student loan bills.


Driving Down Distress?: The Principles & Incomplete History of Income-Driven Repayment

This report examines the history of Income-Driven Repayment (IDR), identifies its key founding principles, the ways that policymakers have tried to meet them, and how the current design of the protection has fallen short of achieving its original goals.


Blog: Fulfilling the Promise of Income-Driven Repayment

It’s time for policymakers to weigh whether the IDR program is fulfilling its promise. And if not, it’s time to boldly rethink the design and delivery of the protections that borrowers deserve.

IDR Work Spotlight

Education Department’s Decades-Old Debt Trap: How the Mismanagement of Income-Driven Repayment Locked Millions in Debt

This issue brief highlights newly public data obtained by NCLC from the Department of Education showing that only 32 borrowers have ever qualified for debt cancellation through the federal government’s IDR program, even as approximately 2 million borrowers remain trapped in decades-old debts.


New Data Show Borrowers of Color and Low-Income Borrowers are Missing Out on Key Protections, Raising Significant Fair-Lending Concerns

Our latest analysis finds racial and socioeconomic disparities in which borrowers are able to access one of the most critical protections available to all borrowers struggling with federal student loans: income-driven repayment.

In the News

About 2 Million Borrowers Missed an Opportunity to Get Their Student Debt Forgiven: Report

That small slice of borrowers shows that the programs aren’t doing enough to protect borrowers from being trapped in a lifetime of debt, according to a report released this week by the National Consumer Law Center and the Student Borrower Protection Center.


‘Abysmal Track Record’: Few Student Loan Borrowers Received Forgiveness Through Government Repayment Plan

Congress wrote a law promising forgiveness to student loan borrowers who make two decades of on-time payments. But that promise has fallen short, according to a new report. Of the roughly two million borrowers on the plan who have been making payments for more than 20 years, only 32 individuals…

Join our mailing list Stay informed on the fight to protect Americans with student debt

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.