You have several repayment options available to you with federal student loans. Your loan servicer will automatically set up your loans on the standard repayment plan. To switch you repayment plan, you can contact your loan servicer once you graduate or stop enrollment; typically, you can switch repayment plans at least once per year.

The amount that you pay and the length of time you repay your loans will vary depending on the repayment plan you select. Generally, you’ll have between 10-25 years to repay your loans.

If you repay your loans more quickly, you will have a larger monthly payment but will likely pay less in the long run. If you repay over a longer length of time, you will have smaller monthly payments but will repay more over the life of the loan. Students who repay over 10 years, generally repay between 140-150% of what they borrowed. Students who repay over 25 years, generally repay between 215-235% of what they borrowed.

To see a comparison of different plans, look at the repayment plan comparison tables below. You can also use a loan calculator, such as the one provided by FedLoan Servicing, Finaid.org, or the Repayment Estimator available through StudentLoans.gov.

Repayment Options: Standard | Extended | Graduated | Income Based | Pay As You Earn | Compare Plans

Standard Repayment Plan

  • Repayment term: up to 10 years.
  • Minimum monthly payment of $50.
  • Pay a fixed amount each month until your loans are paid in full.

The standard plan is good for you if you can handle higher monthly payments because you’ll repay your loans more quickly. Your monthly payment under this plan will be higher than other plans but, you may also pay the least in interest.

Extended Repayment Plan

  • Repayment term: up to 25 years.
  • You must have more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt to qualify.
  • You must not have had an outstanding balance on your federal loans as of 10/07/1998 to qualify.
  • Pay a fixed amount each month until your loans are paid in full.

This is a good plan if you will need to make smaller monthly payments. Because the repayment period will be 25 years, your monthly payments will be less than with the standard plan. However, you may pay more in interest because you’re taking longer to repay the loans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

  • Repayment term: 10-25 years.
  • Loan payments start off lower and increase every 2 years.
  • Payments must cover at least the interest that is accruing on the loans.
  • No single payment will be more than 3 times greater than any other payment.
  • You can repay for 10 or 25 years.

The graduated plan may be a good option for you if you expect your income to increase steadily over time. Because your payments start off smaller, you will pay more in interest than you would if you compared this repayment plan to one of the same length with a fixed monthly payment.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan

  • Repayment term: up to 25 years.
    • You make payments on the loan until it is paid in full or until you make 300 payments.
  • Loan payments are adjusted annually based off of your Adjusted Gross Income and family size.
    • Payments are equal to 15% of your discretionary income but never exceed the amount of the standard 10 year repayment plan
      • Discretionary income = AGI minus 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size
      • Payments can be as low as $0 and do not have to cover accruing interest.
  • To qualify for this repayment plan, you must have a partial financial hardship, which means that your payment calculated under IBR must be smaller than the one calculated under the standard, 10-year repayment. Generally speaking, if your income is less than your student loan debt at the start of repayment, you are likely to be eligible for this plan.
    • Once you’ve initially qualified for IBR, you may continue to make payments under the plan even if you later no longer have a partial financial hardship.
  • If, after 300 payments (25 years), there is still a principal or interest balance on your loans, this remaining amount is canceled.
    • Be aware that, under current tax laws, the canceled amount is considered taxable income in the year that it is canceled. Depending on the amount canceled, this could have a significant impact on your taxes.
    • If you work in public service, the remaining balance on your loans can be forgiven after 120 payments (10 years). For more information on this, please read about Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
  • You may pay more total interest over the life of the loan than you would under other repayment plans due to the fact that it could take you longer to repay the loan.
  • Additional information about the Income Based Repayment Plan can be found on the Department of Education website.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan

  • Repayment term: up to 20 years.
    • You make payments on the loan until it is paid in full or until you make 240 payments.
  • Loan payments are adjusted annually based off of your Adjusted Gross Income and family size.
    • Payments are equal to 10% of your discretionary income but never exceed the amount of the standard 10 year repayment plan
      • Discretionary income = AGI minus 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size
      • Payments can be as low as $0 and do not have to cover accruing interest.
      • These calculated payments are smaller than payments under the IBR plan (above).
  • Eligible loans: Direct Stafford, Direct Grad PLUS and Direct Consolidation loans only.
  • To qualify for this repayment plan, you must meet the following criteria:
    • You must have a partial financial hardship, which means that your payment calculated under PAYE must be smaller than the one calculated under the standard, 10-year repayment.
    • You must not have owed a balance on any federal student loans before October 1st, 2007.
    • You must receive a disbursement of a federal student loan, or applied for a new consolidation loan, on or after October 1st, 2011.
  • If, after 240 payments (20 years), there is still a principal or interest balance on your loans, this remaining amount is canceled.
    • Be aware that, under current tax laws, the canceled amount is considered taxable income in the year that it is canceled. Depending on the amount canceled, this could have a significant impact on your taxes.
    • If you work in public service, the remaining balance on your loans can be forgiven after 120 payments (10 years). For more information on this, please read about Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
  • You may pay more total interest over the life of the loan than you would under other repayment plans due to the fact that it could take you longer to repay the loan.
  • Additional information about the Pay As You Earn Plan can be found on the Department of Education website.

Repayment Plan Comparison


Sample Repayment Amounts, based on Loan Balance at Repayment*
Loan Balance Standard Extended Graduated Extended Graduated
120 payments 300 payments 120 payments 300 payments
all payments equal payments increase every 2 yrs**
$90,600^ Monthly Amt $1059 $650 $613 $539
Total Repaid $127,075 $194,711 $137,260 $210,440
$132,000^ Monthly Amt $1,559 $966 $905 $813
Total Repaid $187,115 $289,813 $202,638 $312,760
$180,000^ Monthly Amt $2,138 $1,332 $1,243 $1,128
Total Repaid $256,621 $399,758 $278,301 $431,052
$182,843^^ Monthly Amt $2,173 $1,355 $1,264 $1,147
Total Repaid $260,789 $406,429 $282,852 $438,227

^ The loan amounts listed represent the 25%, Median and 75% levels of borrowing for the 2012-13 graduating class.
^^ The amount listed assumes that you borrow the full Cost of Attendance (COA) over 3 years and assumes a 3.15% increase in COA from year to year. The Cost of Attendance for the 2013-14 year, for full-time students is $59,068

* Based on interest rate of 6.8% for first $61,500, 7.9% for any amount above $61,500.
** The amount listed is the initial monthly payment due; payments on graduated plans increase every 2 years.


Sample Monthly Payments under IBR and PAYE*
AGI $50,000 $60,000 $75,000 $100,000
Family Size PAYE IBR PAYE IBR PAYE IBR PAYE IBR
1 $273 $410 $356 $535 $481 $722 $690 $1,035
2 $223 $334 $306 $459 $431 $647 $639 $959
3 $173 $259 $256 $384 $381 $571 $589 $884
4 $122 $183 $206 $308 $331 $496 $539 $808

* Based on 2013 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and D.C..

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