How To Recertify Income-Driven Repayment

If you're enrolled in a student loan repayment plan based on your income, you must recertify your financial information each year.
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All federal student loan borrowers using income-driven repayment (IDR) plans must resubmit information about their income and family size annually — even if nothing has changed. This process is known as recertification, and it can increase or decrease your payments for the next year.

If you were supposed to recertify your plan in March 2024, you'll now have additional time to do so. The Education Department moved the IDR recertification deadline to Nov. 1, 2024. Since you need to recertify your income 35 days before the deadline, September 2024 is the earliest you may need to submit your income and family size information. Servicers will alert borrowers at least three months ahead of the recertification deadline — so keep your eye out for a notification in August.

Submit your recertification request online at when your servicer first tells you the deadline. There’s no financial benefit to waiting if you’re worried about rising bills; updated payments don’t go into effect until your previous annual repayment period ends.

Here’s what to know about how to recertify income-based repayment, including what happens if you miss your recertification deadline.

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When is your recertification deadline?

Your student loan servicer is required to let you know when your recertification paperwork is due at least three months in advance. It’s smart to complete the process when you first learn this date. This will ensure you don’t forget to recertify and your servicer gets everything it needs in time.

If you choose to wait, set a reminder for your recertification date. Contact your servicer if you aren’t sure when it is. Generally, your annual recertification deadline will align with when you entered your income-driven plan.

Submit the paperwork at least 35 days before your recertification deadline to ensure your next billing statement reflects the information you provide. This year, that's Sept. 25, 2024.

Your last chance to submit your income documents is 10 days before your deadline. If you miss this deadline, you'll be taken off your IDR plan and moved into a different plan, which could change your monthly payments.

You also have the option for automatic recertification. If you gave consent for your tax information to be accessed when you applied for IDR, then you will be automatically recertified on your recertification date.

How to recertify your information

You can recertify Income-Based Repayment and the three other income-driven repayment plans either at or by sending a paper form to your servicer. You’ll provide the same kind of information as when you initially applied for income-driven repayment:

  • Your family size.

  • Your most recent federal income tax return or tax transcript.

  • Alternate proof of any taxable income, like pay stubs, if you didn’t file taxes.

  • A signed statement explaining your income, if no documentation is available.

Recertifying online is typically faster and easier, because it offers online access to your tax records via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, shares your request with multiple servicers (if you have them) and confirms your request via email. Having that digital trail may prove handy if your servicer says it hasn't received your information.

Here are the steps to online IDR recertification:

  1. Go to Under the "Returning IDR Borrowers section," log in with your FSA ID.

  2. Select "manually recertify my IDR plan."

  3. Verify your employment status, family size, martial status and income. You can also consent to the IRS automatically transferring your income information.

  4. Verify your address and contact information.

  5. Review your application and submit it.

Automatic IDR recertification is possible

The Education Department can automatically recertify for you each year if you gave consent for them to access your tax information when you first applied for an IDR plan.

You'll get a notification before payment amounts change. If you opt into automatic recertification, you still have the option to manually recertify if your income or family size changes at any point.

What happens if you forget to recertify?

If you miss your recertification deadline, you can reenroll in your plan by providing your servicer with updated information. This won’t undo any penalties that have already occurred, though.

The penalties depend on the income-driven plan you use. The following can happen:

For all plans, your payments will no longer be based on your income. Instead, you’ll usually switch to fixed monthly payments based on the amount you owe.

If you fail to recertify your income for the Saving on a Valuable Education Plan, or SAVE, your monthly payments will no longer be based on income and you'll be placed into an alternative plan. Your new monthly payment will be based on the amount needed to repay your loan by the earlier of these two timelines:

  1. 10 years from the date you enter the alternative repayment plan.

  2. The ending date of your 20- or 25-year SAVE Plan repayment period.

If you don't recertify your income under the PAYE, Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) or Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans, you'll stay on the plans, but your monthly payments will revert to the amount you'd owe under the standard 10-year repayment plan.

If you plan to restart income-driven payments and can’t afford the higher amounts in the meantime, you can pause payments temporarily with forbearance. This will prevent your loans from becoming delinquent but increases the amount you owe because interest will accrue during this postponement.

If you make automatic payments, missing your recertification deadline can lead to payments taking a bigger chunk out of your bank account than you expected.

For example, let’s say you owed $30,000 at 4% interest when you enrolled in PAYE. With a discretionary income of $40,000 and a family size of one, you would pay $177 each month under PAYE. But if you didn't recertify, you would now owe the standard amount of $304 a month.

If you autopay, that $304 might be taken out of your bank account before you realize your plan has changed. Depending on how you manage your money, the withdrawal could lead to overdraft and other bank fees.

Failing to recertify for the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan has the most harmful consequence. Any unpaid interest will capitalize, or be added to the principal balance of your loans, which will increase the total cost of your loans over time.

Income-driven payments tend to cover less of the interest accruing on your loans since they can be as low as $0. If you’ve been on your plan for a while, you may owe a good deal of interest. Tacking that onto your balance will increase how much you pay because future interest will now accrue on a larger amount.

Capitalization of unpaid interest does not occur when to don't recertify for any of the other IDR plans.

Some borrowers may recertify their incomes but forget to confirm their family sizes. If you do this, you’ll continue to make payments based on your income. However, your servicer will use a family size of one to calculate your income-driven payments.

If your previous payment was based on a larger family size, your new payment will be higher. If that amount increases so much that it becomes more than the standard payment, you would no longer qualify for IBR or PAYE if you were using either plan. Losing IBR eligibility could result in unpaid interest being capitalized, or added to your principal.

Can you recertify student loans early?

If you need a lower payment right now because life happened — you lost your job or had a child, for example — you can recertify income-based repayment early and ask for an immediate payment adjustment. This reduced payment will be valid for 12 months.

If you recertify early, the process is the same. Just select the option for an immediate adjustment instead of annual recertification on your request. Otherwise, your new payment won’t go into effect until your current annual payment period ends.

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