Publication Date: December 17, 2015
Subject: Approval of the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request for the Direct Loan and FFEL Programs
Summary: This letter announces the approval of a revised Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Request form for the Direct Loan and FFEL programs.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a revised Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Request form under OMB Control Number 1845-0102, with an expiration date of October 31, 2018. The revised form is for use by borrowers who have received loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, and covers the following repayment plans:
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan - Direct Loan borrowers only
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan - Direct Loan borrowers only
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan - Direct Loan borrowers only
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan - Direct Loan and FFEL borrowers
The revised IDR Request form is attached to this letter.
General Changes to the IDR Request Form
We have significantly revised and restructured the IDR Request form by adding the REPAYE Plan to the form and by incorporating skip logic to ensure that more borrowers complete the IDR Request form completely and accurately.
Changes to Questions for Married Borrowers
Under the REPAYE Plan, married borrowers are treated differently than under the other IDR plans. For the REPAYE plan, a spouse's income is included (with limited exceptions) in the calculation of the borrower's REPAYE payment amount regardless of whether the borrower and spouse filed a joint federal income tax return or separate returns. Under all other IDR plans a spouse's income is included in the calculation of the borrower's monthly payment amount only if the borrower and spouse filed a joint tax return.
The revised IDR Request form requires all married borrowers who filed separate federal income tax returns to provide documentation of their spouse's income, even if they have not specifically requested the REPAYE Plan (unless certain exceptions apply). The reason for this requirement is to accommodate instances where the borrower is not eligible for his or her initial IDR plan choice but is eligible for the REPAYE Plan.
Use of the Revised IDR Request Form by Married FFEL Program Borrowers
For FFEL Program borrowers, the IBR Plan is the only available IDR plan. If a married FFEL borrower who files a separate federal income tax return from his or her spouse does not comply with the instructions to submit documentation of spousal income, the FFEL lender or servicer may not require the borrower submit that documentation. This is because spousal income information is required for the IBR Plan only if a married borrower files a joint tax return.
Implementation and Transition to New Form
FFEL Program participants may begin distributing the attached OMB-approved form to borrowers immediately. Beginning July 1, 2016, only the revised form with the 10/31/2018 expiration date may be provided to borrowers. However, the previous version of the form may continue to be accepted from borrowers and processed after that date.
For loans that are held by the Department, the federal loan servicers will distribute the new IDR Request form immediately, but will continue to accept older versions of the form that are submitted by borrowers through March 30, 2016. However, borrowers who submit older versions of the form will not be considered for the REPAYE Plan. After March 30, 2016, federal loan servicers will reject prior versions of the form and will request that the borrower complete the new IDR Request from so that the borrower may be considered for the REPAYE Plan.
Future Changes to the IDR Request Form
In March 2016, we will release an updated version of the IDR Request form that will incorporate modifications to questions for married borrowers. The IDR Request form that is attached to this letter allows married borrows to indicate that they are separated or cannot reasonably access spousal income information only if they most recently filed a separate tax return from their spouse. The updated form will allow borrowers who most recently filed a joint tax return to indicate that they are separated from their spouse or cannot reasonably access their spouse's income information. If a borrower indicates that this is the case, the borrower will be required to provide alternative documentation of his or her individual income, which will be used to calculate the IDR plan monthly payment amount.
We expect to require implementation of the further revised IDR Request form that will be issued in March 2016 by July 1, 2016.
To improve accessibility for visually impaired borrowers, we are providing the form only in PDF format. Loan holders, servicers, and guaranty agencies are responsible for ensuring that the form they use is identical to the attached OMB-approved form. No changes may be made to the form except as expressly provided below.
The loan holder, servicer, or guaranty agency must print the form on white paper with black ink. The typeface, point size, and general presentation of the form may not be changed from the attached version. Loan holders and servicers may use any blank spaces at the top, bottom, or sides of the form for bar coding or other loan holder- or servicer-specific information. Also, loan holders and servicers may pre-populate their contact and submission information in the section of the form designed for that purpose.
Jeff Baker, Director
Policy Liaison and Implementation
Federal Student Aid
U.S. Department of Education