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Income-Driven Repayment Plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Managing federal student loan payments during residency can be difficult, but income-driven repayment plans can offer manageable payment amounts that also count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Income-Driven Repayment Plans*

There are three repayment plans that base a borrower’s monthly loan payment on their income. The income-driven repayment plans include: Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment, and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR).

The basic premise for the income-driven repayment plans is that the borrower makes a loan payment based on their discretionary income and household size. Two of the plans (IBR and PAYE) also require that the borrower exhibit a Partial Financial Hardship External Link (PFH) in order to qualify. Eligibility qualifications for all three plans differ and not all borrowers will qualify for all plans. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, visit the Federal Student Aid External Link Web site.

In the income-driven plans,  either the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for the borrower’s household (as filed with the IRS) or Alternative Documentation of Income (ADI) forms must be submitted to the servicer(s) when entering the plan, and annually thereafter. As the income for a household changes, so will the required monthly payment amount.

All three plans feature a loan forgiveness benefit of their own. IBR and ICR will forgive a balance after 25-years of qualifying payments, and PAYE forgives a balance after 20-years of qualifying payments.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)*

The PSLF program rewards borrowers for working in the non-profit sector. Borrowers must make 120-monthly, on-time payments while working fulltime (30- hours or more per week) at a non-profit, 501(c)(3), military, or govern­mental organization. While many medical schools and teaching hospitals qualify, an Employment Certification Form PDF External Link should be submitted to confirm an employer’s eligibility.

After making the required monthly payments, the borrower can apply to have their outstanding federal student loan balance forgiven. For more details about PSLF, review the PSLF Fact Sheet . You can also use the “PSLF Forgiven” feature in the Medloans® Organizer and Calculator to view potential forgiveness amounts.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is ONLY available for Direct Loans. If existing student loans did not originate from Direct Loans, they can be converted into a Direct Loan by consolidating.  For more information, visit www.studentloans.gov External Link.

How do the Repayment Plans and PSLF Work Together?

While in residency, if you choose to make payments on your student loans, it’s likely that your stipend will allow for lower monthly student loan payments. Additionally, since some residency programs are located at non-profit teaching hospitals, these lower pay­ments can count towards the 120-monthly payments needed to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Once residency train­ing is finished, though a physician’s salary will increase, the required payment amount will never be more than what the standard 10-year payment amount would have been when initially entering repayment.

Therefore, the income-driven payment plans and PSLF work well together by allowing lower monthly payments during residency while also bringing you closer to loan forgiveness under PSLF.

Other loan forgiveness options available with the income-driven plans take 20- or 25-years to realize, but if work in public service is your desire, and you meet all the criteria, you could benefit by combining PSLF with an income-driven plan and experience loan forgiveness in a shorter period of time.

*This document does not provide all eligibility requirements, but instead, highlights many of the features of each plan.  To determine if these repayment plans and/or if Public Service Loan Forgiveness is an option for you, contact your loan servicer(s).

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Medloans® Organizer and Calculator

Medloans Organizer and Calculator

Organize and track your loans, then view sample repayment scenarios with the Medloans® Organizer & Calculator, the only Web tool of its kind developed for medical students.