How to Submit an Income-Driven Repayment Application

Submit an income-driven repayment application on or via paper form.
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski 
Edited by Des Toups

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You’ll need to submit an income-driven repayment application at or download a paper request form and submit it to your servicer (the company that sends you a bill every month).

Applying for income-driven repayment online is typically faster and easier than submitting a paper form (the Federal Student Aid office estimates the process takes 10 minutes or less). Both the application and a demo of the process are available on the Federal Student Aid website. You’ll be able to access your tax records and receive a confirmation email after submitting.

You can temporarily self-report income

Through July 31, 2022, borrowers can self-report their income when applying for or recertifying an income driven-repayment plan, according to the Education Department. That means you don't have to submit tax documentation when you report your income. This can be completed online when you submit the IDR application, as normal; in Step 2 of the application, select "I'll report my own income information." The Student Loan Servicing Alliance confirmed in December 2021 that borrowers may also self-certify by phone.

What you'll need to apply for income-driven repayment

To apply online, you’ll need to log into your account using your FSA ID. All applicants (online or paper) will need to provide personal information, such as:

  • Address.

  • Email address.

  • Phone number.

The application also requires you to provide financial information, such as:

  • Your family size.

  • Most recent federal income tax return or transcript. (The IDR Data Retrieval tool will link your tax information directly to your application.)

  • Information about your spouse’s income if you filed taxes jointly.

If you didn’t file taxes or your income has changed since your most recent tax return, you’ll need to submit proof of income earned within the last 90 days, such as:

  • Pay stubs.

  • Letter from your employer stating your gross pay.

  • Signed statement explaining your income, if formal documentation is unavailable.

If you’re unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits, you’ll still need to submit proof of unemployment income. If you don’t have any income, you can self-certify as such on the application.

Once you fill in the application, you'll see which repayment plans you qualify for. You'll select one, then confirm all the information you supplied is accurate and sign the application.

What happens after you apply for income-driven repayment?

Once you submit your application, your servicer will confirm receipt via email or letter. It’ll also put your loans into a payment pause, called a forbearance, while your application processes. You don’t need to make any payments during this time, but interest will accrue and be added to the amount you owe when you start repayment.

When your application process is complete, you’ll receive a new bill with the amount you now owe and payment will restart.

Submit recertification information every year

Applying for income-driven repayment is not a one-and-done application process. You’ll need to recertify every year. Otherwise, your payments will revert back to the standard repayment plan, and that could mean a bigger monthly bill.

Your student loan servicer will let you know when you need to recertify well before the deadline.

You’ll have to recertify similarly to when you first applied using the same form on or by submitting a paper form to your servicer. You’ll need to provide the same information you submitted when you first applied.

If you need help applying, contact your servicer

Your servicer can help you through the process of applying for or recertifying income-driven repayment.

Third-party sources that ask for money to get you enrolled are a scam. There is never a fee to process an income-driven repayment application, and you never need to pay anyone to apply on your behalf.

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