On July 1, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education implemented two fixes to the Income-Based Repayment program which make borrower’s student loan payments more affordable:
Married Borrowers: When married couples both have federal student loans, they will no longer face higher IBR payments than their unmarried peers. For married borrowers who file their taxes jointly, lenders will factor in the couple’s total federal student loan debt, as well as their total income, to calculate payments. Originally, IBR did not recognize that joint income has to cover both spouses’ federal loan payments, resulting in payment requirements up to twice what two equivalent single people would have to pay.
Baseline Debt: IBR eligibility will be based on either the balance when the loan first entered repayment or on the current loan amount, whichever is greater. This will allow borrowers whose loan balances have increased (often due to accrued interest during periods of deferment or forbearance) to qualify based on what they actually owe.