How to recertify your Income-Driven Repayment plan each year

September 21, 2022 | Robbie Morris

When you’re using an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan to pay your dental school student loans, it is crucial that you recertify your income and family size each year. This process will establish your monthly payments for the next 12 months. Not doing so could have disastrous consequences for your repayment strategy.

How do you recertify your IDR plan?

  1. Go to
  2. For your yearly recertification choose, “Recertify Your Plan.”
  3. Confirm whether you are employed at a non-profit or government employer. If you are pursuing PSLF you will answer Yes.
  4. Enter the number of dependent children and other dependents in your family.
  5. Confirm your marital status. If you choose married, you’ll need to answer an additional question about using the ICR plan. It’s unlikely that new borrowers will be using ICR so the answer to this question does not matter.
  6. On the next page, you will link to the IRS website to populate income information from your most recently filed tax return. When locating your tax return be sure to use your name as it appears on the tax return and the address you used at the time of filing.
  7. If your current income is lower than what your previous tax return shows, then you will check Yes to the question that asks if your income has decreased. This will allow you to submit alternative documentation of income, usually your pay stub.
  8. Next, enter your personal information.
  9. Finally, review and sign the form.

When do you need to recertify your IDR plan?

If you are using an IDR plan, you are required to recertify your income and family size once every year. Generally, you will receive a notice from your servicer when it is time to recertify each year. This usually occurs 2-3 months before your previous recertification date.

During your lifetime, your income will generally increase. However, if you have an unexpected decrease in income for any reason, you are allowed to recalculate your monthly payment at that time. This will help to realign your payment amount with your income so that you can continue to make on time payments. To do so, you would proceed to the Student Aid website and choose the “Recalculate My Monthly Payment” option.

Recertifying at any time also applies to your family size. If you have an increase in children or other dependents, it would be wise to recertify early to adjust your payments accordingly.

When you are attempting to make the lowest payment possible, recertify early if your income decreases or your family size increases.

What happens if you forget to recertify?

If you forget to recertify, there are various penalties that vary slightly depending on which IDR plan you were using. For the most part, the penalties are the same, and include the following:

  • You will be switched to the 10-year Standard plan and payments will be based on your balance at the start of IDR. In other words, your payment goes up by a large amount in most cases.
  • Unpaid interest will be capitalized. This means interest will start to grow at a faster rate.
  • Your servicer will assume a family size of one. If you are single this doesn’t matter, but if you do have a larger family, it will cause your monthly payment to increase.

Luckily, you can still return to your IDR plan of choice if you proceed with a late recertification and still qualify for that plan.

IDR recertification is a fairly straight forward process. Choosing the optimal IDR plan and reducing your monthly payments can be a bit more complicated. If you’re not sure which IDR plan is right for you, Roots Financial Planning is here to help you every step of the way.