At its inception, Income Based Repayment, or IBR, was described as real reform for federal student loan debtors. It promised debt relief for low-income borrowers and an alternative to the forbearance and deferment options used by loan providers. IBR works by limiting student loan payments to 15 percent of gross adjusted income. After 25 years, the outstanding balance is forgiven. Additional benefits apply to those working in certain nonprofit or teaching positions.
Former Project on Student Debt communication director Edie Irons told me in a July 2009 interview for my Open Salon piece " Finally! Student Loan Debt Relief Arrives for Many " that IBR could serve a million students with student loan debt. To date, according to the New York Times, it has served 920,000 students. Yet this year 5.9 million student loan borrowers have fallen at least 12 months behind on payments. "
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