Student Loan Repayment Options

There are four basic repayment plans for student loan debt. Once you begin repaying, if you are having trouble making your payments, call your lender. They will be happy to discuss alternate payment methods with you. If you don't know who your lender is, log on to www.nslds.ed.gov. You'll need some basic information about yourself and the federal PIN number which was assigned to you when you applied for aid. If you don't have the PIN number, go to www.pin.ed.gov for assistance.

  • Standard Repayment
    Your loan balance plus interest is divided into 120 equal monthly payments and paid back over a period of 10 years. This plan generally has the highest monthly payments of the four repayment plans, but your total repayment amount will be the lowest. It is the best option if you can afford it.
  • Extended Repayment
    To be eligible for extended repayment you must have over $30,000 in student loan debt. There is a fixed payment option and a graduated payment option, each with a repayment period of 25 years. With the fixed payment option, your payment will be the same every month. With the graduated repayment option, your payment will start out small and increase every two years. The graduated option might make sense if you expect your income to rise. Important note: you will repay substantially more money in total on this repayment plan than you would on a 10-year plan.
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    This plan is not available for Parent PLUS loans. The maximum repayment period is 25 years. Time spent in deferral or forbearance does not count. After 25 years, any remaining debt will be forgiven, but you might need to pay taxes on the amount discharged. Your monthly payments will be calculated each year on the basis of your adjusted gross family income, your family size, and the total amount of your loans.
  • Income based repayment (IBR)
    Under IBR, your required monthly payment is capped at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your family income and family size. You are eligible for IBR if the monthly repayment amount under IBR is less than the monthly amount calculated under a 10-year standard repayment plan. After 25 years on an IBR plan, any remaining debt balance may be discharged.  To learn more, go to IBR Plan Information or download an IBR Fact Sheet.

If you work in public service for 10 years and make 120 on-time payments during those 10 years, any remaining debt balance may be discharged.

Student Loan Deferments

There are several types of student loan deferments that allow you to suspend payment of your loans for specific periods of time under certain circumstances.

Education deferments

If you are attending school at least half-time, then payments on your student loans can be deferred. Most loan payments will resume six months after enrollment ends. Education deferments can be approved again in the future if you return to school at least half-time.

Public service deferments

  • Military deferment can be approved if you are on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces or serving full time for a minimum of one year in the National Guard or Reserves.
  • Public Health deferment can be approved if you are a full-time officer in the Commissioned Corps of Public Health of the United States Public Health Service.
  • NOAA deferment can be approved if you are working in the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
  • Peace Corps deferment can be approved if you in the Peace Corps or an ACTION program.
  • Tax Exempt Organization / Volunteer deferment can be approved if you are a volunteer for a tax exempt organization that the U.S. Department of Education has determined to be comparable to the Peace Corps or an ACTION program.

Economic deferment

There are certain economic hardships that may qualify you for a deferment. Contact your lender to determine your eligibility.

  • Unemployment deferment can last for up to three years after school enrollment has ended. You might be required to complete an unemployment deferment form every six months.
  • Disability/Rehabilitation deferment can be approved if you are receiving rehabilitation training under an approved program and you are unable to work due to an injury or illness. This deferment also applies if you are caring for a disabled dependent or a disabled spouse.
  • Family related deferment (parental leave or family leave) can be approved if you are pregnant, caring for a newborn, or caring for a newly adopted child and cannot work or attend school. Parental leave deferments apply to Federal Stafford and Supplemental Loans that were obtained before July 1, 1993.

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