Repayment Schedules and Options

Student loan borrowers can repay different types of loans in a number of different ways—and even possibly postpone making payments.

Paying your loans is always the best option: The more you pay now, the less you pay later. But, if you find it easier to pay less—or you cannot afford to pay anything—take advantage of these options. Do what’s best for you.

Repayment Schedules

There are 6 repayment schedules available for Stafford and Grad PLUS loan borrowers:

  • The traditional 10-year schedule—and the one in which you pay the least interest overall—is standard repayment.
  • If you need to lower your monthly payments, you can do so by stretching your repayment period to up to 25 years with extended repayment.
  • You can also pay less now without extending your 10-year repayment period by using graduated repayment.
  • If you are struggling to make your monthly payments, you may be eligible for income-contingent repayment (for Direct Loan borrowers) or income-sensitive repayment (for Federal Family Education Loan Program borrowers).
  • If you have high student loan debt and/or a low income, you may be eligible for income-based repayment or pay as you earn repayment.
  • Combine all your loans into a single loan—with a single payment—by consolidating your loan.

Parent PLUS loan borrowers can choose from any of the plans above except income-based repayment or income-contingent repayment. However, you can become eligible for income-contingent repayment by consolidating your Parent PLUS loans.  

You can only change your repayment schedule once a year (unless you're switching to income-based repayment). Also, for all federal student loans, there is no penalty for paying off your loan before it is due.

Additional Options

If you are struggling to make any payment due to personal circumstances, you have other options.

Repaying Perkins Loans

Perkins loans have fewer repayment options; however, you can postpone payments, including through Perkins-specific deferments.

  • Repayment for Perkins loans lasts 10 years.
  • Your school determines your payment amount—the minimum payment is $40—and the frequency of your payments (monthly, quarterly, bi-monthly).
  • You can apply for graduated repayment, but the U.S. Department of Education must approve it.
  • You may be able to work with your school to establish a different repayment plan. Contact your school to find out more.

Repaying Institutional, Private, and State Loans

Repayment options vary for institutional, private, and state loans.

  • Institutional loans: Contact your school to learn about your repayment options.
  • Private loans: Contact your lender to find out your repayment options.
  • State loans: Contact your servicer or your state's office of education to find out your repayment options.

If you do not know if you have institutional, private, or state loans, review your free annual credit report.