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Income-based repayment (IBR) is a long-term student loan repayment program designed to keep your federal student loan payments affordable. With IBR, your payment amount is based on your income and family size—and is reassessed and adjusted each year to keep it affordable.
IBR can be very helpful if you’re struggling to make your loan payments. But you should also keep in mind that your reduced payments while in IBR may not cover the interest on your federal student loan. As a result, the loan balance can grow and you may pay more interest over the life of the loan.
You may qualify for this federal student loan repayment program if:
- Your federal education debt is high enough in relation to your income to qualify for a reduced payment
- You are seeking a long-term repayment program for your federal student loan
- You have one or more eligible federal loans. These include:
- Federal Stafford Loans
- Federal GRAD PLUS Loans
- Federal consolidation loans that do not include Parent PLUS Loans
Other federal loans as well as nonfederal, state, or other student loans not guaranteed by the federal government are not eligible for this repayment program.
Keep in mind: IBR is one of several student loan repayment programs and is not right for everyone. There are other options available, both short- and long-term. If you have a consolidated loan, we strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your options prior to applying.
How It Works
- Getting started: To enter IBR, you must qualify for a reduced payment. If you qualify, the reduced payment will be in effect for 12 months.
- Re-certifying: Each year, you’ll need to recertify by submitting a new application and income documentation (if applicable) to determine whether you qualify for another year of reduced payments under this student loan repayment program. You may also request a recalculation of your payment any time there’s a change in your income or family size.
- When you’re no longer qualified for a period of reduced payment: If you no longer qualify for a reduced payment—or if your period of reduced payments ends and you don’t re-certify—your monthly payment will increase to an amount that would pay off the loan balance in about 10 years from the date you entered IBR.
- Forgiving your loan: After 25 years of making qualifying payments, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness on the remaining balance. This means you will not have to pay any more on the loan. You may, however, be required to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
How to Apply
You can apply online through the Department of Education's website at StudentAid IBR Instructions. You will need your FSA ID to login and submit the application. The online application is the most efficient way to apply.
If you prefer to submit a paper application, follow these 5 steps to apply for this federal student loan repayment program:
- Download the application (PDF)
- As you complete the application, you will be prompted to provide documentation of your current income.
- Complete all applicable sections and sign and date the application on page 4. If you’re married, your spouse must also sign.
- Return the first 4 pages of the application, along with your income documentation, to VSAC. See Section 7 of the application for address and fax number.
- If you filed a joint federal tax return and your spouse has eligible loans, your spouse needs to take the following steps to authorize VSAC to view their eligible loans. This authorization is valid for up to 60 days:
- Go to Student Aid Authorizations
- Log in with their FSA ID
- In the Organization Code field enter VSAC's organization code: 830075
- Click "Grant Access"
Keep in mind: You remain responsible for your loan payments during the IBR application process, unless you have made other arrangements with us. Incomplete forms or documentation will delay your request to enter this federal student loan repayment program.