IBR Final Rules and Application Help

Help Finding the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Application

Because IBR application forms and information can be hard to find online, we've pulled together the most direct links for some of the biggest lenders. You must apply for IBR through your lender(s). Contact your lender(s) directly if they are not listed here. 

At the urging of IBRinfo and our subscribers, the Department of Education recently made the Direct Loan IBR application packet available online. While the link to the complete packet is harder to find than we'd like, we've learned that the Department plans to fix that soon and release more IBR resources in the coming months. Our staff will continue to press for more accessible IBR information, including asking Wells Fargo and Chase to put their IBR applications online.

As students who graduated in May 2009 are just entering repayment on their federal loans, it's critical that they can easily find out about IBR, determine if it's right for them, and apply. Thousands of borrowers have successfully enrolled in IBR, but we know that many more out there could benefit.

More information and tips about the IBR application process

Final regulations for 2010

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

improvements

On November 1, the Department of Education finalized two important changes that we requested to make IBR more helpful for struggling borrowers. The fact that hundreds of you wrote and urged the Department to fix these problems was instrumental to this success. The new rules will go into effect in July 2010. IBRinfo will release an updated calculator in the coming months so you'll be able to see how these changes may affect you.

Treatment of Married Borrowers

  • Current rule: When two married individuals both have student loan debt and file taxes jointly, they could face up to double the monthly IBR payment of two unmarried borrowers in otherwise identical situations. This is because their combined income is used to calculate each spouse's own IBR payment, ignoring the fact that their joint income must be used to pay down both borrowers' debts.
  • Starting in July 2010: This problem will be fixed, as lenders will factor in both spouses' federal loan debts as well as their joint income when calculating IBR payments.

Baseline Loan Balance for IBR Eligibility

  • Current rule: IBR eligibility and payments are based on a borrower's loan balance when s/he first entered repayment. While good for most borrowers, this works against those whose loan balances have grown since entering repayment, which can happen when interest accrues during forbearances and deferments. In some cases, borrowers whose current loan balance should make them eligible for IBR cannot use the program because their original loan amount was lower.
  • Starting in July 2010: Borrowers' IBR eligibility will be based on either their loan balance when they first entered repayment or their current loan amount, whichever is greater. This will allow borrowers whose loan amount has grown to make payments based on what they actually owe, not what they owed in the past.

Stay tuned in the next couple of months for:

  • A survey for us to learn more about your experiences, opinions, questions, and suggestions about IBR.
  • New efforts to establish a confirmation process so that borrowers interested in Public Service Loan Forgiveness can be assured they are eligible.
  • Progress on IBR-related resources and information from the Department of Education and other lenders.
(This message was sent to the IBRinfo mailing list on December 3, 2009.) 
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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