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How the Biden Administration is Updating IDR Payment Counts

40,000 borrowers are about to get their remaining student loan balance forgiven, and millions more will move closer to IDR loan forgiveness.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

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On April 19, 2022, the Department of Education announced a temporary program to update the IDR payment counts for many federal student loan borrowers.

The exact details, explained below, are a bit complicated. As a result, this monumental change might be missed by some borrowers.

What is so significant about the change?

Millions of federal borrowers just got closer to student loan forgiveness. The Department of Education estimates that 40,000 will receive forgiveness.

Updating IDR Payment Counts Fixes a Major Issue

To understand how the changes apply to your student loans, it is helpful to know why the changes were made.

Income-driven repayment plans like IBR, PAYE, and REPAYE help borrowers afford their monthly student loan payments, even if they have a large balance. Crucially, these plans also provide a path to debt freedom. Borrowers on IDR plans can have their debt forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan.

The first income-driven repayment option was created in 1994. To this day, the representatives at many student loan call centers don’t fully understand how IDR works and how it can help borrowers. As a result, many borrowers have been given bad advice from their servicer over the past 30 years.

Some borrowers were placed on a deferment or forbearance when an IDR plan would have been a better choice. Others were enrolled in extended or graduated repayment plans instead of an IDR plan. Unfortunate advice like this caused borrowers to delay or completely miss out on student loan forgiveness.

Forbearances, Deferments, Extended, and Graduated Repayment

During this one-time update of borrower IDR count, many previously ineligible repayment plans and payment statuses will now get borrowers closer to the required 20 or 25 years worth of IDR payments.

Deferments — Previous periods of borrower deferments will get credit as IDR repayment time. The one exception is in-school deferments, as outlined below.

Forbearances — If a borrower has 12 consecutive months of forbearance, or a total of 36 months of forbearances, the borrower receives credit for IDR payments during this period.

All Repayment Plans — Borrowers who were “In Repayment” get credit as time towards IDR forgiveness, regardless of the repayment plan they were on.

Activity Before Consolidation — Historically, consolidating your loans meant “restarting the forgiveness clock.” Under the new policy, this time will get added as progress towards IDR forgiveness.

Important Note: The rules for IDR forgiveness have not changed. Instead, borrowers receive a one-time credit for previous periods that were not eligible.

Borrowers still need to enroll in an IDR plan if they want to earn additional progress toward loan forgiveness.

What Doesn’t Count Under the Updated Rules?

Most borrowers are likely to see their tally towards IDR forgiveness jump considerably.

However, a few exceptions will limit the benefit to some borrowers.

In-School Deferments — If you were on an in-school deferment, you will not receive credit for this time. Even if you made payments during school, the time does not count.

Grace Period — All borrowers receive a six-month grace period after finishing school before payments start. This time will not count towards IDR forgiveness.

FFEL Loans — The most significant exception is that borrowers with FFEL loans will not benefit from this program. However, it is possible to work around this issue. (see the next section)

Steps Borrowers Must Take

The good news for borrowers is that these updates happen automatically.

The one exception is commercially-held FFEL loans. If you have an FFEL loan, or a privately held Perkins or HEAL Loan, you should consolidate by December 31, 2023, which is the date the Department of Education expects to start updating the borrower counts.

Many borrowers delayed consolidating for fear of losing progress towards forgiveness. The new policy temporarily allows FFEL borrowers to consolidate without starting from the beginning. Better yet, it’s also a great opportunity for FFEL borrowers who are chasing PSLF.

IDR Count Adjustment Timeline

The Department of Education expects to complete the update of the IDR payment records at some point in 2024 for most borrowers.

However, it is worth noting that this update has already been pushed back multiple times from the originally planned date in January 2023, and it is possible that further delays will happen.

The one exception to this timeline is for borrowers who are nearing the number of payments required for IDR forgiveness. These borrowers should receive their update and details on forgiveness by the spring of 2023 according to the Department of Education. If you think you have already reached the 20 or 25 years necessary to earn IDR forgiveness under these new rules, now is the time to reach out to your servicer.

Timeline Adjustments: The multiple delays on this update are undoubtedly frustrating for borrowers, and this appears to be a lower-priority item from the Department of Education.

If there is good news in this situation, it is that the update may happen after the federal student loan repayment restart. This may increase the number of borrowers who research this issue and benefit from the program.

How to Find Your Payment Status History

Payment histories are notoriously difficult to track down. Loans often move from one servicer to another. Information sometimes gets lost in the transition.

Fortunately, studentaid.gov has records of your payment status history. To find these records:

  1. Log in to studentaid.gov.
  2. In the My Aid section of the dashboard, click on View Details.
  3. Next, scroll down to the loan breakdown at the bottom of the page.
  4. Click on the View Loans dropdown.
  5. This will pull up a list of your student loans.
  6. Select View Loan Details for the loan that you want to review.
  7. In the top section, there is a link for Loan Status History.

The loan status history should show periods of repayment, deferments, and forbearances.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

66 thoughts on “How the Biden Administration is Updating IDR Payment Counts”

  1. Hello, I just estimated my number of payments through my student aid data and I appear to be about 19.5 years into paying my oldest loans which date back to 1999 minus a 4 year in school deferment. These loans have been consolidated with newer loans from 2004-2008. My question is: I am currently on an extended repayment plan and I know once the IDR adjustment is applied I will need to switch to an IDR plan to keep counting payments but should I switch before this happens or wait until it happens? If I switch to the save plan now before th 50% reduction due in July 2024 my monthly payment would almost triple due to my income.

    • As long as you have federal direct loans, or federally-held FFEL loans, you don’t need to take any steps to qualify for the adjustment. In other words, you can stick with your current repayment plan.

      However, if you wait too long to trasition into SAVE, you risk making payments on a no longer eligible repayment plan. You will have to balance your monthly budget against your desire to keep moving the clock forward on IDR forgiveness.

      Also, given the age of your loans, I’d encourage you to double check to verify that you don’t have any FFEL loans that need to be consolidated before 12/31/23.

      • Yes, they are all federal direct or federally held through consolidation.

        So once the IDR account adjustment is made, whenever that is, I have to switch to save immediately to keep counting payments correct?

        If the IDR adjustment is made and I don’t switch immediately I understand that those payments would not apply. But if I switched to save later i.e. July when the 50% reduction in SAVE payments occurs would I still qualify for the 20 year forgiveness once the new SAVE payments are counted and I breach the 20 year threshold? Or would I no longer be eligible because I didn’t switch immediately?

        This is all complex and I appreciate your input.

  2. Do you have any ideas on when IDR Waiver adjustments will happen? Playing this waiting game on this one-time adjustment is tough as it would be nice to know if my balance gets reduced and payment is then reduced long term and I can get to either forgiveness or loan payoff sooner.

    • I share your frustration. They have already moved the adjustment date a couple of times, and all we really know for sure is that it should be at some point in 2024.

      That said, this isn’t the type of thing that will slightly reduce your balance. It will just update progress toward IDR forgiveness. For some borrowers, their balance will immediately drop to $0. Others will become a year or two closer to forgiveness.

  3. In 2016, after paying four years’ worth of student loan payments, I consolidated various student loans so that I could participate in the PSFL program, and the payment counts were zeroed out. I then went back to school and obtained a graduate degree. I recently consolidated the originally consolidated loan with the other loans that I had taken out to obtain the graduate degree. Will the IDR count adjustment just take into consideration the amount of time payments was made on the first consolidation loan only or do you think that it will also count the original four years’ worth of payments on the individual loans?

    • It should all count.

      However, because your loan situation is on the tricky one, you will want to keep a close eye on things when they update your payment count. It is possible those four years might get skipped over if you are not careful.

      I don’t want to alarm you, but there have been a number of servicing issues of late, and when you have a complicated loan history like yours, it is in your best interest to double check their math when they do the one-time update.

  4. Moehla says i need to recertify my income in january the student aid website says february. but per the student aid website. i wont need to certify until 2025 as mine falls in the time period of the 6months of payment restart. do you know anymore about this. Moehla seems lost when I tried to explain it

  5. Hello – I’m in a standard/graduated repayment plan. Some of my federal loans were released in 2004 and others in 2008 for two different undergrad degrees. I was in forbearance while I was in school from 2004 to 2008. So, my repayment plan says it starts in 2008 in FSA. I make decent money now and am nervous to apply for the IDR repayment plan because I think my payments will be higher. Couple questions:

    – Does the new forgiveness plan forgive after 20 years under a graduated plan or is it only under IDR?
    – If I enter the IDR plan now does it calculate the previous years to consider forgiveness in 2004 or 2008?

    Thank you! really helpful information on your site.

  6. Hello. I was originally on the REPAY and I see that I have automatically been switched to the SAVE plan in my loan site. I would like to know, once the pause ends, when must I resubmit IDR recertification? usually department of education sends a letter stating that we have to submit recertification, but I have not received that yet. Any ideas when that might take place? Thank you.

    • That is a great question. Your servicer should let you know when you are approaching your deadline. To make sure that you don’t miss out on this important information, make sure to update your contact information.

      The good news is that the earliest borrowers will need to recertify is in 2024, because old IDR certifications will be good for at least six months once the restart begins. I’ve previously taken a look certification timing strategy as we approach the restart.

      Finally, the next time you certify, you will have the option of giving the Department of Education permission to access future tax returns, meaning you no longer have to track the deadline.

  7. When will borrowers get an update on the status of their loans? Believe I have enough time in repayment and have consolidated.
    Hopefully, it will be before payments start again.

    • That is a great question. Most borrowers won’t see an update on their IDR counts until early 2024. However, those that are on the brink of forgiveness are supposed to receive an update earlier.

      I’d suggest calling your servicer and discussing this issue with them. Hopefully, they can initiate a review and get your debt discharged before payments resume.

      If it doesn’t happen and if your debt gets forgiven in 2024 and you made extra, unnecessary payments, you should get a refund for these extra payments.

  8. Curious your thoughts on this particular frequently asked question on the IDR page. In my situation, I had at undergrad FFEL loans (1999-2003) approx 60k that I have consolidated to direct government loan in order to take advantage of the one time recalculation. I also already have another direct government loan related to my MBA from 2011-2013. Approx 30k

    Given this statement from the frequently asked questions, it almost makes me think I need another consolidation to consolidate both of my direct loans together so that my MBA will get potentially credited with more time., but then I’m also extending my undergrad loans from being forgiven at 20 years and making everything 25.

    Wonder if there is a general rule about this particular FAQ. Do you offer consultations to look at loan details and offer assistance?

    • It looks like you intended to link to a specific question on the StudentAid FAQ, but I don’t see a link.

      However, based on your question, I suspect I know what you are asking about. In your case, it could make sense to do a secondary consolidation in order to get all of the debt on the same forgiveness timeline.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to offer individual consultations due to limitations in my schedule. I have sent a number of borrowers to the Student Loan Planner, and this is the sort of thing they should be able to walk you through step by step if you are looking for an extra set of eyes.

      • Hi Michael, Thank you for helping us make sense of this complex but promising IDR account adjustment initiative. I have also consolidated on time and have enough months in repayment to get the IDR account adjustment trigger my debt discharged. (I have 120+ months and am in PSLF.) I understand that I am part of the few borrowers that should have their account reviewed earlier due to my forgiveness/PSLF status, however, the review seems to have either not taken place or been performed incorrectly.

        Could you provide more information on what langage to use when speaking to our servicer to “initiate a review”? When calling our servicer “Mohela”, representatives do not seem to know what we are referring to. Really appreciate the wealth of useful information and tips shared on the Student Loan Sherpa website.

  9. I currently have 1 FFELP consolidation loan serviced by Nelnet and have been in repayment since 2003. I am on the standard repayment plan now and have been for quite some time, although my repayment status has changed over time. From what I am reading, it seems as though I cannot re-consolidate this loan to a Direct consolidation loan (because I don’t meet the specified criteria) and thus will not qualify for IDR forgiveness, is this true? My servicer has told me different things.

    • Based on the information you have shared here, it sounds like you could be a good candidate to consolidate under the one-time account adjustment.

      What specified criteria is it that you feel you don’t meet?

      It’s possible that you haven’t been in payment long enough to have already earned IDR forgiveness. However, consolidation potentially could move you much closer. Perhaps that is the confusion with what your servicer is telling you?

      • This is what I’ve found on the studentaid.gov website. The FAQ was “I have only 1 FFEL consolidation loan. Can I consolidate to take advantage of the account adjustment.” The answer is this:

        You can reconsolidate a single existing FFEL Consolidation, but only if you’re in one of these situations:

        1) You’re in default or your loan is delinquent and has been referred for default aversion, and you agree to repay your new Direct Consolidation Loan under an IDR plan.

        2) You’re consolidating in order to qualify for the PSLF Program.

        3) You’re consolidating to use the “no accrual of interest benefit” for active-duty service members, which states that you’re not required to pay the interest that accrues during periods of qualifying active duty military service (for up to 60 months) on the portion of a Direct Consolidation Loan that repaid a Direct Loan Program or FFEL Program loan first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2008.

        Because of this, I am not sure I qualify to reconsolidate my 1 FFEL direct consolidation loan. I’ve been in repayment since 2004 and my loan is commercially held. Would you agree based on this info?

      • I see exactly what you are saying Nicole, and I don’t have an easy answer.

        Given that your loan is commercially-held, I’m not certain why the government would want to block consolidating into a federal direct loan, but I don’t know for certain.

        Have you attempted consolidating online?

      • Hi Michael, I have tried re-consolidating online, however, when I get to the part where it gives me options for repayment, it estimates the Projected Loan Forgiveness-Repayment Period to be the entire length of time it will take to pay off the new loan depending on the type of plan I choose. That gives me pause because I have been paying on these loans for just shy of 20 years, if I re-consolidate it appears that will not be taken into consideration. Perhaps I am wrong and the time will be considered when they perform the reviews next year, but, what if they don’t? If I keep what I have now, I have approx 4 years or so left to pay. If I re-consolidate and the loan is not forgiven, based on the pmt plans they’re offering, the least amount of time for repayment is 10 years.

  10. Thanks for the great info. The IDR adjustment is taking place via executive order, correct? I guess I am concerned that with the IDR adjustment taking place “sometime in 2024”, which probably means sometime in 2025, and with a potentially and likely new President being sworn in Jan 20, 2025, isn’t it possible that a new President slams the brakes on the IDR adjustment via another executive order? Thanks!

    • Great questions, CJ.

      I don’t think this particular item is a formal executive order, but it is an action of the Department of Education under the supervision of the President. Notably, it is not happening because of a law passed by Congress and signed by the President.

      The IDR adjustment has already been pushed back multiple times, so you are justified in your fear about it moving again. However, I suspect that the previous movement had more to do with the payment pause getting extended. It’s actually better for borrowers if the IDR update happens several months after repayment starts. There is a good chance that the update takes place as planned in early 2024. If nothing else, it will make many voters happy, which is something the President probably wants to do in an election year.

      You are also right that student loans have become a political football. However, this isn’t something that a future President is likely to undo. Generally speaking, when the government confers a benfit like this, it is hard to retroactively change it. Additionally, things like the payment pause or $10,000 forgiveness plan are easy to understand and easier to argue. A one-time modification of IDR payment counts is a pretty complicated concept and the type of thing that is unlikely to get changed in the future.

      That all said, it certinaly isn’t set in stone. Still, as someone who stands to benefit, I’m cautiously optimistic that it will happen.

      • Hello Michael my loans have consolidated and I on income contingent plan for a while.My loan is a Parent Plus Loan and I have also applied for Public Loan Forgiveness.
        I am a nurse and worked in profit and nonprofit health care facilities for a long time, retired and now receiving social security
        I was with FedLoan then after COVID my loan was transferred to MOHELA .I would think MOHELA need more updates on loans transferred to them because it is important that they get it right. Department of Education have all the information , so I hope Department of Education still have all the information and documentation. This is a serious issue and people have to move on with their lives .
        I never default on payments over the years so I want to thank you for listening to people with different loan plans. I don’t think student loan should affect People’s credit in a way that cause problems when they have get a mortgage or refinance.
        Thanks and let me know what you think.

  11. Thanks so much for all your great advice. You are a blessing since there is “so much” conflicting info out there! Quick question: do you know if loans dispersed prior to 1994 will be included in the one time IDR loan forgiveness? The info online says that loans prior to that aren’t but it’s not clear as to whether that means dispersed or loans that have gone into repayment. I have loans from 1993 but they didn’t go in to repayment until 1998, so would they count?
    Thanks again!

    • I see why that sounds confusing Michelle. The loan from 1993 can still potentially benefit from the adjustment. However, periods of repayment before 1994 will not be included in the adjustment because the IDR program didn’t exist yet.

      • Thanks so much Michael, that is so helpful! So much information out there makes my head spin. I just read on “nerd wallet” that people who are currently enrolled in REPAYE plan will only get forgiveness by 2035 since that plan came into existence in 2015. I’ve been making payments since 2000 so does that mean, because I’m in the REPAYE plan, payments between 2000 and 2015 won’t count? I thought all repayment periods counted…or do they have it wrong? 🙁 that’s the first time I read that and it sent me into a panic. What do you think?

  12. Hi,
    I am trying to figure out if I should consolidate my remaining FFEL loans. I consolidated the higher interest rate FFEL loans with Mohela before the end of the temporary expanded pslf ended in 2022. I didn’t consolidate them all because I was worried that somehow something would go wrong and they wouldn’t get approved. I did get them forgiven! I have a few loans still with Navient and if I consolidate them with Mohela the interest rate will almost double. With that said, if I consolidate and my prior payments will go towards the pslf then it wouldn’t matter because it would be forgiven. I definitely have the 120 payments and employer approved but I just can’t figure out if I consolidated them if they would still count for the pslf. I have always had the IDR but not sure if I’ve had it for 20 years.

  13. I am now preparing my IBR annual recertification request. My spouse and I file taxes as “Married filing separately”. I was surprised to learn that I must now ask my spouse to cosign my IDR request. He does not want to do so, so I have not completed the IDR request. I am not sure that I can say that I could not get access to income information my spouse. (Question 7, Section 4A), however. I also don’t understand why this is being asked of me since the instructions note that he will not be obligated pay my loan by cosigning my IDR application in any case. I would like to understand the point of this change, and so would he, but I have found nothing helpful on StudentAid.gov. Can you help. I would be very grateful.

    • Hi Ann,

      I’ve got a few thoughts on this one. First, if your spouse refuses to share his income information or sign the form, it would seem to me that you cannot reasonably get access to that information.

      Second, spousal income information is sometimes necessary for an IDR calculation. For example, if you enroll in the REPAYE plan, filing separately won’t make a difference. Notice how the IDR request form specifies that the spouse’s income information will only be used for REPAYE enrollment (see questions 19 and 20).

      Finally, if you look at the spouse’s signature page, it says the following: “If you are married, your spouse is required to sign this form unless you are separated from your spouse or you’re unable to reasonably access your spouse’s income information.”

      Best wishes to you!

  14. Hi thanks for publishing this information -its very confusing. I currently have 2 Direct Consolidation Loans one subsidized and one unsubsidized through Mohela that have been in repayment since October 2002 – on the GRADUATED loan program.

    Do I have to switch to a IDR program to qualify for the one-time IDR waiver or will my loans be considered automatically. I cant seem to get a straight answer on this.

    • That is a great question. If the loans are not FFEL or some other privately held loan, I don’t think you need to. HOWEVER, you should probably get enrolled in an IDR anyway. Your old graduated repayment plan payments will now count, but future graduated loan payments will not count. In other words, if you are pursuing or even considering chasing IDR forgiveness, it makes sense to get started on an IDR plan.

      Note: I’m not suggesting that you should opt out of the Covid-19 payment pause. You can submit IDR paperwork today and request that the plan start once the payment pause is over. The entirety of the Covid-19 payment pause will also count towards IDR forgiveness.

  15. Hi Christopher. I had a number of Stafford loans that I consolidated in 1995. I entered repayment status in January of 1996 (so, just a couple of weeks short of 27 years ago now). I was on a reduced payment forbearance from the DLSC for MANY years- some months I could make the payments and some months not. I was never labeled as delinquent. But those non-payment months cut heavily into the 300 required months normally required for grad school loan repayment. Do you know if the IDR is counting strictly months in a repayment status, or is it actual payments made (300)? If it’s the former, I’m two years over what I need and am hoping IDR will kick in soon. If it’s the latter,… I’ll never get them paid off. Thanks for any info you might have.

  16. How will I know if my IDR count has been examined, how long do I wait, and who do I contact if they don’t catch it? Based on this information, I believe I should qualify for quite a few months of payments. My payment history doesn’t specify if I was in deferment or forbearance, as it says “deferment or forbearance.” But there was over a year prior to 2013 of that when I was employed full-time at a non-profit but didn’t make enough to make payments. I was advised to defer or forbear, and so I did. However, something looks very fishy. Each year of the 2 years of this, there was one month just missing. It skips over July one year and August another year. I’m wondering if this was done to make it look like it wasn’t 12 consecutive months. Is that a thing? I’m just worried I will not be given the credit because of this. So, will I be notified when my payment count has been examined/updated? If not, how long do I wait to dispute it? And who do I contact at Mohela? Their contact page doesn’t even have a place to make a dispute.

    • So far the only updates that have happened were for people working towards PSLF and on the brink of the required 120 payments. Everyone else is still waiting.

      They told us this update would happen in January, but with everything happening with the one-time forgiveness, it could take until the Summer.

      You will know when they have been updated because there will be a tally on your servicer’s website. These don’t exist yet. The recently did a similar thing with PSLF counts. I suspect you will be able to dispute any issues as soon as they make a decision.

  17. I have 11 government loans, six of which are ffel loans. I have been in the ibr repayment plan since 2010, and I have had $0 payments the entire time due to a disability. Now I have been able to work fulltime and have started 5 months ago at a nonprofit that qualifies for PSLF. I know I have to consolidate the ffel loans for PSLF but should I include the five direct loans in this consolidation? Will I lose all my time in the 25 year repayment or are these still counted? I need to do this by tonight Oct 31st! Thank you for your help

  18. Hello! My 1st loan entered re-payment in 1999. I took out a few loans after that and those went into Repayment in 2005. I consolidated all loans in 2007 (commercial fflep) and I may now consolidate to a DL for the IDR adjustment. When will my calculation begin? 1999, 2005 or 2007? I have called student aid and it is not clear.

    • That is a great question. The payments made before consolidation should count. If they handle it like they did the Limited Waiver on PSLF, the count will date back until 1999 for you, but I cannot confirm that at this time.

      • So grateful I found this site! Thank you for your work.

        I am so confused about consolidation! I had been in repayment on FFEL loans since 1997 and consolidated them in 2019. I *think* from your answer here, all prior repayment will count but I’m not sure. The servicer’s site shows only the payment history since consolidation and when I called them today (Aidvantage), the person I spoke to said only the history since 2019 counts. I can’t tell from what I’m reading here and other places whether “consolidation” means any consolidation or only consolidation as part of this new initiative.

        I’ve paid off what I originally borrowed plus ~18K and I still owe 20K more than what I originally borrowed because of capitalized interest. So hoping all those prior payments count!

      • If you’ve been in repayment since 1997 and consolidated your FFEL loans in 2019, I’m surprised that you were not one of the people who received an email indicating that you would be getting forgiveness this week.

        I’d suggest calling your servicer and asking specifically about the IDR adjustment as it pertains to your loans. For most borrowers, the one-time adjustment won’t happen until early 2024, but for many of the borrowers who have already made enough payments for forgiveness, it is happening right now.

  19. Michael,

    Quick question, I have FFEL loans that I would like to consolidate to take advantage of the repayment period. I’ve been paying for approx. 22 years. Do I need to sign-up for an IDR plan or just consolidate into a standard loan?

    • When you consolidate, you are given the option of picking your repayment plan. I’d suggest picking an IDR plan because future payments on the standard repayment plan or extended repayment plan won’t count towards your IDR count.

  20. Thank you for this article. There is now a “Deferment/Forbearance Time”
    listed on my loan details with four different types of Deferment/Forbearance and “Time Remaining” for each.
    What does this mean?

    Also has there been any hint of when we will see these new updates to what counts besides being sometime this Fall?
    Thank you.

    • I think that is the number of days you potentially have available under each of those various deferment options (assuming you meet any other requirements).

      As for the count update, I haven’t heard any news, it has taken a back seat to the many other programs happening right now.

  21. I have two loans with Navient. Both are FFELP loans. I have been in IDR for couple years now but not sure exactly how long since I haven’t looked and didn’t know there was help for this. Original loans are from 1999 I believe when went from Sallie Mae to Navient. What do I need to do for forgiveness on these loans? Do they need to be consolidated? This is all overwhelming.

    • FFEL loans are really difficult. Don’t feel bad about being overwhelmed.

      Right now, things are really complicated for the one-time forgiveness program. However, if you are potentially eligible for PSLF, you have a huge deadline coming up on 10/31.

      If you are interested in IDR forgiveness, and you probably should be given the amount of time you have been in repayment. Consolidating to take advantage of the IDR payment count update could be the best approach.

      • I am in the same boat with Kristin above. Two Staffords left. Gradated grad school in 1996 with 13% interest rate. I consolidated with Sallie Mae / Navient in 1999 to get a 7.75% interest rate. I didn’t start IDR until 2015.

        I have applied for (not yet finalized) the direct consolidation with DOE /IDR plan.

        I have three questions:
        1) Is this IDR recount (counting all payments as IDR) in jeopardy now, or does it appear that this will actually happen?

        2) I think I started paying in 1997/1998 before consolidation – would payments prior to 1999 consolidation count towards IDR?

        3) With regard to the interest rate. I read that in consolidating with DOE/Direct the IR would be approx 1/8% higher than the original loan – Can you tell me if that is correct and if so, is that +1/8% on the 13% that I originally received, or the 7.75% I have been paying since I consolidated with Sallie Mae in 1999?

        Thanks so much for considering my questions.

      • These are great questions.

        1) I can’t say for certain that IDR count update will happen, but I think the odds are really good. The Biden administration already did something similar with the Limited Waiver on PSLF. I’m also not aware of any pending legal challenge to the update.

        2) The time prior to the initial consolidation should count, but this will be something that you should watch closely when they do the update, because I don’t have much confidence in their old records going back that far.

        3) When they consolidate, they typically do the weighted average interest rate of the loans rounded to the nearest 1/8%, which is what you saw. However, it sounds like you had an FFEL consolidation loan. Some of those loans had offered an interest rate discount. When you consolidate back into a federal direct loan, the interest rate will revert back to the original rate.

        Given that you are looking at getting forgiveness potentially much earlier by consolidating, a large bump in interest rate might still make sense. However, it is a risk. I’d encourage you to talk with your servicer to discuss your timeline and paths to forgiveness so that you can move forward with confidence in the path you select.

  22. Hi Michael…I have 2 undergraduate loans with Nelnet since March of 2003 and I went on their website to see how many repayments, deferments and forbearances I have. Then I went on the studentaid.gov to see as well. They do not match.. I’m concerned because through Nelnet site I would have 49 forbearances which means they would count towards loan forgiveness and I’d like only need 3 more payments to be done…Now through the Studentaid.gov they have me as 35 forbearance which is less than 36 and from what I can tell none of them where for longer than 11 months though one was for 11 months and supposedly I paid for a month and then put on forbearance for another 11 months. That one seems fishy. Would I be able to inform them their records don’t match up with Nelnet’s or am I stuck with what they tell me? Also does the COVID forbearances count towards the 36 cumulatitvely? Thanks for any help! I know perhaps I will just need to wait and see what happens but I’m trying to stay ahead of the game.

    • Hi Christopher,

      My first suggestion would be to print copies/take screenshots of all of the information that you see right now. These records may be helpful in the future.

      As for the Covid payment pause, it likely will not count towards the 36 months.

      I think your instinct to wait and see is probably the right approach at this time. If there is an issue, you can address it when it arises. There isn’t much you can do about something that might go wrong.

  23. I have 3 “grad” courses on my transcripts. These were for keeping my teaching certificate according to Idaho law. I have a letter stating I was accepted to grad school on a temporary basis only. I was then and am now on disability and could not go to grad school but Navient says I have to wait for 25 years for forgiveness. Is this true?

    • Borrowing loans for grad school means that it takes 25 years, instead of 20 years under REPAYE for forgiveness. I’d suggest keeping on eye out on the new repayment plan that Biden recently announced. They haven’t released the full details, but the forgiveness provision might help you out.

      Additionally, because you are on disability, you might want to check out disability discharge. I don’t know your circumstances, but you might benefit from that approach.


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