Published: April 2022

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

Today, a group of 116 diverse advocacy organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to reform dysfunctional income-driven repayment (IDR) programs and fulfil the promise of IDR. 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 after 20 years.

Consumer Action joined a coalition of 116 organizations in urging President Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Cardona to reform the federal student loan program’s income-driven repayment system. The plea comes on the heels of the Education Department’s announcement extending the federal student loan pause until September 2022, and National Public Radio’s explosive investigation revealing problems and mismanagement in the administration of IDR that are even worse than the public previously understood. To date, fewer than 50 borrowers have been able to cancel their loans under IDR, even though it’s believed that at least tens of thousands are eligible.

Lead Organization

Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC)

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 | Alaska PIRG | Albuquerque Mennonite Church | Alliance for Youth 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 | California Association of Nonprofits | Center for American Progress | 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 | Community Legal Services of Philadelphia | Community Service Society of New York | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Federation of California | Consumer Reports | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas | Council on Social Work Education | Debt-Free MD, Inc. (Maryland) | 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 | Legal Action Chicago | Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota | Louisiana Budget Project | Maine Center for Economic Policy | Media Voices | Mississippi Association of Educators | Mobilization for Justice | National Association of Consumer Advocates | National Association of Graduate Professional Students (NAGPS) | National Association of School Psychologists | National Association of Social Workers | National Education Association (NEA) | National League for Nursing | National Urban League | National Young Farmers Coalition | NAVIGATE STUDENT LOANS | New America Higher Education Program | OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates | Ohio Student Association | Partnership for College Completion | People's Parity Project | Physician Assistant Education Association | Portland State University Faculty Association (PSUFA-Local 3571) AFT-Oregon | Project on Predatory Student Lending | Public Citizen | Public Counsel | Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) | Public Justice Center | Public Law Center SEIU Local 500 | SEIU Local 509 | Student Debt Crisis Center | Student Loan Fund Inc. | Student Public Interest Research Groups | Student Veterans of America | The Arc of the United States | The Education Trust | The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice | The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) | The Revolving Door Project | Tzedek DC | UnidosUS | United College Employees of Fashion Institute of Technology | United State of Women | University of California Graduate & Professional Council | UnKoch My Campus | URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity | Virginia Poverty Law Center | Women Employed | Young Invincibles

More Information

Click here to read the coalition letter.

For more information, please see NPR’s investigation on student loan repayment.


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