Published: February 2022

The system is broken: It’s time for income-driven repayment reform

A group of 104 diverse advocacy organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration, calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to reform broken, dysfunctional income-driven repayment (IDR) programs with the creation of an IDR restoration project or waiver. While student loan cancellation under IDR has been possible since 2016, just 32 borrowers have ever successfully had their loans cancelled. At the same time, over 4.4 million borrowers have been in repayment for 20 years or longer, despite theoretically being able to access forgiveness via IDR.

Congress passed the first of the modern income-driven repayment (IDR) programs in 1992, promising borrowers that federal student loan payments would be affordable and not a life-long burden. After nearly three decades, reforms are needed to ensure IDR can deliver on this promise, and advocates are calling on the Biden administration to cut through the red tape that has long stymied the IDR program and deliver a pathway out of student debt, particularly for low-income borrowers and borrowers of color. Decades of bad servicing, complicated paperwork and policy failures have broken borrowers’ faith in this program. Advocates are calling on the Education Department under the Biden administration to make IDR reform an urgent priority in the months ahead.


Lead Organization

Student Borrower Protection Center

Other Organizations

Student Borrower Protection Center | Center for Responsible Lending | National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients) | 1000 Women Strong Accountable.US | African American Ministers In Action | American Association of University Professors (AAUP) | American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges | American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) American Federation of Teachers (AFT) | American Library Association | Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund | Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Association of Young Americans (AYA) | Autistic Self Advocacy Network | Center for Economic Integrity | Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) | Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR) | CFPB Union NTEU 335 | Clearinghouse on Women's Issues | Coalition on Human Needs | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Reports | Council on Social Work Education | Dr. N. Joyce Payne Center for Social Justice | Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) | Empire Justice Center Equal Justice Works | Fosterus | Hildreth Institute | Hip Hop Caucus | Hispanic Federation | Housing and Economic Rights Advocates | International Brotherhood of Teamsters | International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) | Jobs With Justice | Media Voices | Mobilization for Justice | National Education Association (NEA) | National Urban League | National Young Farmers Coalition | NAVIGATE STUDENT LOANS | Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU), IFPTE Local 70 NTEU Independent Staff Union | OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates | Partnership for College Completion | People's Parity Project | Physician Assistant Education Association | Project on Predatory Student Lending | Public Citizen | Public Counsel | Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) | Public Justice Center | Public Law Center | Student Debt Crisis Center | Student Public Interest Research Groups | Student Veterans of America | The Education Trust | The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice | The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) | UnidosUS | University of California Graduate & Professional Council | UnKoch My Campus | URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity | Women Employed | Young Invincibles

More Information

For more information, please visit SBPC’s website.


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The system is broken: It’s time for income-driven repayment reform   (Final_IDR_Waiver_Coalition_Letter_2_9_2022.pdf)




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