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Only 32 Borrowers Have Ever Qualified for Income-Driven Repayment

March 9, 2021
 
 

For more than 25 years, student loan borrowers have had the option to base their monthly payments on their income. But throughout the entire history of the program, only 32 borrowers have ever qualified for full forgiveness from the federal income-driven loan repayment program, according to a policy brief released Monday by the National Consumer Law Center.

Depending on the plan borrowers choose, the remaining balance on loans is supposed to be forgiven after 20 to 25 years, the study said. “If the program worked as intended, more than 2 million borrowers would have had their debt cancelled by now,” the study said.

The report blamed “chronic mismanagement” by the Education Department, as well as loan servicers not steering borrowers to IDR plans, for the program’s failure.

“The fact that only 32 borrowers, out of the millions paying for 20 or more years, have received cancellation through the programs created to ensure an affordable pathway out of debt is proof that those programs have failed and are likely exacerbating racial and gender disparities in the student loan portfolio,” said Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance project.

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