Repaying Your Student Loan

Once you have graduated, the focus turns to finding a job and repaying your student loans. The journey through student loan repayment is different for everyone. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of loan repayment:

Know when you need to start repayments. Your repayment schedule will depend on your loan type and loan servicer. Your loan servicer or lender must provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment. Most federal student loans don't require you to begin paying until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. However, PLUS loans enter repayment once your loan is fully paid out.

Know your repayment options. Federal student loans and private student loans have different repayment options and conditions. Make sure to read the loan conditions that you signed when you first received your loan. Under the federal student loan program, there are many repayment options:

  1. Standard (10-year repayment plan)
  2. Graduate (15-year repayment plan)
  3. Extended
  4. Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  5. Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  6. Income-Based (IBR)
  7. Income-Contingent (ICR)
  8. Income-Sensitive (ISR)

Each repayment plan has its strengths and weaknesses. It is important to determine which is right for you based on the monthly payment, program benefits, repayment period (10–30 years), and interest payment.

Pay on time—and pay more when possible. On-time payments ensure that your loans are current and that you don't have to pay any late fees. When possible, try to put more than your base monthly payment toward your loans. This can help reduce your repayment schedule and the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

Seek a forbearance or deferment if you're falling behind. If you meet certain eligibility requirements, deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments or to temporarily reduce your monthly payment amount for a specified period. Talk to your loan servicer about your options.

Communicate with your loan servicer. If you have questions, concerns, or are struggling with your loan payments, make sure to call your loan servicer. There are a number of resources they can offer you to help reduce or defer your loan payments. Avoiding these payments can have long-term effects on your credit.

More Resources to Help You Navigate Student Loan Repayment:

Federal Student Aid: How to Repay Your Loans
More info from the U.S. Department of Education on how to manage federal student loan debt.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Repay Student Debt
Information and advice on how to pay off student loans, whether federal, private, or both.