Note that the federal government has suspended payments for federally held student loans through the end of September, due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
* * *
The average student loan borrower faces a monthly payment ranging between $200 and $299.
The repayment plan a new grad chooses will ultimately decide their unique student loan payment amount and total interest paid. So if you’re concerned about keeping costs down, take a look at how different federal repayment plans can affect the average student loan payment.
The average student loan payment on different repayment plans
Scenario 1: Average student loan term and payment for Direct Loans
Scenario 2: Average student loan term and payment for Direct PLUS loans
Pros and cons of changing federal loan repayment plans
Find the right repayment plan for you
The first thing to understand in this discussion is one simple concept: Lowering monthly payments equates to a longer repayment period, which results in higher total costs.
Of course, no two student loan borrowers are the same. One may need a lower monthly payment while they work their way up the career ladder. Another may be graduating into a six-figure salary and immediately have the cash for a larger monthly payment.
This is why different repayment plans exist.
So while federal loans are assigned a 10-year term under the Standard Repayment Plan, borrowers can change plans at any time and at no cost. However, be aware that changing your repayment plan can affect your monthly payment and total loan cost.
To better explain how a repayment plan affects monthly payments and your total cost for a loan, let’s walk through some examples.
The Department of Education (DOE) currently offers eight different repayment plans. For this example, we’re going to look at three of them using the DOE’s Loan Simulator. We’re also going to imagine that our hypothetical borrower is repaying $29,900 (the average debt for the Class of 2019) at 5.05% (the current interest rate for federal loans).
A couple of common denominators: For each loan type, we’re assuming the borrower earns an average income of $64,041 (the reported average for Michigan residents, according to 2017 tax returns). The federal government assumes a 2% annual growth in that salary over the life of the loan.
You can also use our monthly payment calculator to enter in personal characteristics and estimate your average student loan payment per month.
|Standard Plan||Graduated Plan||Extended Plan|
|Monthly payment||$318||$181 (first) and $542 (last)||$176|
|Typical student loan term||10 years||10 years||25 years|
The most basic of all plans, this one has you making fixed monthly payments for a decade. The 10-year repayment period is one of the shortest of all the plans we’ll review.
Monthly payment: $318
Total interest owed: $8,244
Total payout: $38,144
Monthly payments under the Graduated plan progressively increase, ticking up every two years. They start lower and end higher, making this a good option for entry-level professionals expecting to earn more money over the life of their loans.
Monthly payment: $180 (first) and $540 (last)
Total interest owed: $10,508
Total payout: $40,408
The benefit of a lower monthly payment at the beginning ends up costing the borrower $2,264 more than the Standard Repayment Plan. On the downside, the plan is not eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Whereas the Standard and Graduated plans assume a 10-year term, the Extended Repayment Plan does just that — extends your average student loan term. You can spread your payments out for up to 25 years and elect to set them as fixed amounts or graduating over time.
One catch is that you need to have at least $30,000 in combined federal student loan debt to be eligible for this plan. For the following numbers, we bumped up our hypothetical borrower’s debt from $29,900 to an even $30,000 — and assumed that they preferred fixed payments.
Monthly payments: $176
Total interest owed: $22,976
Total payout: $52,876
The monthly payment is nearly half the amount you would pay under the Standard Repayment Plan. This gives young professionals much more breathing room on a month-to-month basis.
However, the borrower would have to decide if that’s worth paying about $14,732 more over the life of the loan. On top of that, the Extended Plan is not compatible with pursuing PSLF.
The Direct PLUS Loan is common among graduate and professional students and parents. Our hypothetical borrower in this scenario also has $29,900 to repay — but at the higher interest rate currently affixed to PLUS Loans, 7.08%.
Also, we’re going to use Florida’s 2018 average household income of $55,462, assuming a 3.5% pay increase year over year. That’s closer to the historical average.
The amount a borrower earns can significantly affect which repayment plan is the most cost-effective choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for high school teachers is $60,320 in 2018. For dentists, the 2018 median pay is $156,240. With very different salaries, a teacher and dentist are liable to make different decisions when choosing a repayment plan.
As you’re considering income-driven plans, consider your earnings potential to make sure you can stomach the most expensive of these options.
Below we cover three repayment plans that offer loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years. With low monthly payments, these plans could be good options for those borrowers who are seeking eventual Public Service Loan Forgiveness and want to keep their monthly payment low.
|Monthly payment||$311 (first) to $444 (last)||$311||$309|
|Typical student loan term||20 or 25 years||20 or 25 years||25 years|
Under REPAYE, your monthly payments would be 10% of your discretionary income, which is recalculated annually to reflect your salary and family size. Here we assume a family size of one.
Monthly payment: $311 (first) to $444 (last)
Total interest owed: $12,026
Total payout: $41,926
Compared to the Standard Repayment Plan, your monthly payments will end up much higher, allowing you to pay less interest and zero your balance about six months early.
On the Income-Based Repayment plan, your monthly student loan payments are capped at 10% or 15% of your discretionary income, depending on when the loans were disbursed. Your student loans will also have a 20- or 25-year repayment term.
Monthly payment: $311
Total interest owed: $12,689
Total payout: $42,589
With this plan, your monthly payment would be smaller than on the Standard Repayment Plan. However, a longer repayment period means you’ll pay $4,445 more in interest than you would on the standard plan.
The payment for ICR would be either 20% of your discretionary income or the payment on a fixed, 12-year payment term — whichever is most cost-effective. In this example, the borrower has a $309 monthly payment.
Monthly payment: $309
Total interest owed: $14,563
Total payout: $44,463
While the borrower’s total payout is only a bit higher as it would be under the previous two income-driven repayment plans, the low, static payment could make it more attractive.
If you’ve been inspired to switch your federal loan repayment plan because of the benefit of a faster payoff or lower monthly payment, you’ll have to weigh other factors into your decision. Like most measures you can take with your student debt, there are pros and cons to consider.
|It’s free and relatively easy to make the switch: You just have to request it from your federal loan servicer||Enrolling in IDR requires recertifying your income and family size annually|
|A new repayment plan could deliver a lower monthly payment||Extending the average student loan term with a new repayment plan will allow more interest to accrue on your balance|
|You could use a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for your desired repayment plan||Not all loan types are eligible for all repayment plans|
|Switching plans could make you eligible to pursue PSLF or other programs||Any forgiven amount could be subject to income tax|
Whether you have public or private loans, the same is true: What you owe after receiving your diploma is less than what you’ll actually pay by your 10-year reunion.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.74% – 6.52%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 6.59%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of January 19, 2022.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.69% APR to 6.14% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 5.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index. If you apply before 12/15/2021, the index is the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.89% – 5.89% to the LIBOR. If you apply on or after 12/15/2021, the variable rate will be based on the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In each case, the variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent, plus a margin and will change on the 1st of each month. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 6.59% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 11/15/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for Navient.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.