Many people who have federal student loans can lower their payment significantly by entering into a plan that is income based. However, plans like Income Based Repayment (IBR) and Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) have a key component: your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). So, the amount of your AGI in the previous tax year can be critical to these plans working for you. So what do you do?
The first thing is to lower your AGI by maximizing certain deductions. Talk to a tax professional about this. If you can maximize your "above the line" deductions and lower your AGI significantly, it can have a big impact on your student loan payment.
Another way to lower it is for married couples. Do you owe federal student loans, but your spouse does not? Do you currently file a joint tax return? If so, your spouse's income in the joint AGI might hinder you from getting a lower student loan payment if you are applying for, or are in, IBR. ICR always looks at the joint income of a married couple. You might want to consider filing separate returns.
If you live in New Jersey and are struggling with payment on federal student loan debt, I may be able to be of assistance. Just download this questionnaire, fill it out, and then fax it to me at 856-686-9911 or e-mail it to me. I will then review it to determine if I can be of assistance and contact you to discuss representation.