March 1, 2021 — Issue Brief

45 million Americans carry student loan debt, and over 8 million are currently enrolled in the federal government’s income-driven repayment (IDR) plans—plans that base borrowers’ monthly payment on their monthly income and promise cancellation of any remaining debt after 20 or 25 years. The IDR plans have existed for more than 25 years. Yet in all this time, of the millions of borrowers eligible for IDR, new data obtained by the National Consumer Law Center(NCLC) shows that the total number of borrowers who have ever received cancellation is 32.

No, there aren’t some digits missing from that number: just 32 individuals have received the loan cancellation promised through the IDR program.