The report from the GAO, an auditing agency for Congress, comes at a time of intense scrutiny of Income-Driven Repayment, or IDR, plans. The plans are intended to lower monthly payments for many federal student borrowers by basing them on income. In return, the loan terms are extended from 10 years to 20 years or 25 years, after which point borrowers can be eligible for having remaining balances forgiven.
But the actual repayment period under IDR can vary based on a plan’s specifics and borrower’s repayment history. Loans in IDR can be repaid in full before they qualify for forgiveness, and payments made in certain statuses like deferment and forbearance haven’t typically counted toward the loan forgiveness threshold.