How long will I be making payments?

Under these IDR plans, you will make payments for up to 20 or 25 years (depending on the plan). If your loan is not fully repaid by that time, any remaining amount will be forgiven. You may end up paying off your loans earlier. It's hard to predict exactly how long you will be repaying or whether you will end up receiving any loan forgiveness, since both will depend on future changes to your income, marital status, and family size.

The table below outlines how long you have to make qualifying payments in each IDR plan until any remaining amount is forgiven.

Maximum Repayment Period Under Each IDR Plan 

IDR Plan
Monthly Payment
Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

20 years if repaying only undergraduate debt;
25 years on all your loans if repaying any graduate debt

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) if you took out your first federal student loan on or after July 1, 2014

20 years

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

20 years

IBR, if you took out your first federal student loan before July 1, 2014

25 years

Your maximum repayment period includes time that you are:

  • Making payments under any IDR plan
  • Making payments under the 10-year "standard" repayment plan
  • Making payments in other plans that are at least as high as the 10-year "standard" amount
  • In periods of economic hardship deferment.

If you work full-time for the government or a nonprofit organization, you may be eligible to have your loans forgiven after 10 years of payments. Find out more about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) here.

Note that under current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules, any loan amount forgiven through an IDR plan is considered taxable income. TICAS and many others have urged Congress to amend those rules, to prevent borrowers from facing unaffordable tax liabilities. Any debt forgiven through PSLF is not treated as taxable income.

Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn are two ways to help keep monthly payments affordable based on your income and family size. Visit the Department of Education’s Repayment Estimator to find out what your payments might be.
 

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