Sending emails to delinquent borrowers positively impacted IDR application completion

Income driven repayment

Income driven repayment

What was the challenge?

As student loan balances have risen in recent years, an increasing numbers of borrowers struggle to stay on track with payments. The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) within the Department of Education offers income-driven repayment (IDR) options, which link monthly payment amounts to incomes, and can make repayment more manageable. Because enrolling in an IDR plan requires borrowers to learn of and apply for such a plan, uptake is low.

What was the program change?

We developed four email variants to be included in an email campaign: 1) a more comprehensive email, 2) a shorter and less-detailed email, 3) a loss-framed email, and 4) a gain-framed email.

How did the evaluation work?

841,442 borrowers who were 90 to 180 days delinquent were randomly assigned to receive one of the four email variants during different months, or to not receive an email at all.

What was the impact?

Emails had a significant, positive impact on completed IDR applications. Of those borrowers who were sent an email, 1.02% submitted an IDR application in the 20 days following the email, compared with only 0.23% of those not sent the email. The results suggest that sending a single email led to roughly 6,600 additional eligible borrowers to sign up for an IDR plan.





Project Type

Impact evaluation of program change





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