How to Change Your Student Loan Repayment Plan

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When it comes to your student loan repayment plan, it’s easy to feel like you’re stuck with what you’ve got. However, you may have a few more student loan repayment options than you realize.

Perhaps you’ve often found yourself wondering: “How do I change my student loan repayment plan?” Or even “can you change student loan repayment plans?” Well, look no further. Here’s everything you need to know about getting the best student loan repayment plan for your particular situation.

How do I change my student loan repayment plan for federal loans?

First off, federal student loans are more flexible when it comes to modifying your payments. There are a few different ways you can go about it, from changing the number of years you have to repay to changing your monthly payment. You can even pause payments or consolidate your loans.

Therefore, choosing the right student loan repayment plan for you depends on the goal you have in mind. Do you want to pay your loans off faster? Or do you need to have lower monthly payments? Maybe you prefer to have all of your loans in one?

The answers to these questions will lead to different types of student loan repayment options. You need to understand your biggest pain point first and then go from there. Consider which of the following four scenarios applies directly to your situation:

1. I need to lower my monthly payments

There are a few options you can look into if you’re struggling to pay your bills:

  • Deferment
  • Forbearance
  • Income-driven repayment plans

Deferment and forbearance give you a temporary break on your student loan repayment. Both of these options enable you to pause your student loan repayment, although loans in forbearance always accrue interest during that time, while only some types of loans in deferment do.

Income-driven repayment plans, however, don’t pause your payments but do lower them. These plans include:

Income-Based Repayment Plans (IBR)

  • IBR plans apply to PLUS Loans, Federal Stafford Loans, Direct Loans, FFEL, or Direct Consolidation loans that don’t include Direct or FFEL PLUS loans to parents.
  • Payments are 10 or 15 percent of your discretionary income. You are eligible for forgiveness after consecutive payments for 20 or 25 years.

Revised Pay As You Earn Payment Plan (REPAYE )

  • Direct Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans qualify for REPAYE plans.
  • Payments are 10 percent of your discretionary income. You’re eligible for forgiveness after consecutive payments for 20 or 25 years.

Pay As You Earn Payment Plan (PAYE)

  • PAYE plans are for Direct Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans borrowed on or after October 1, 2007, and received on or after October 1, 2011.
  • Payments are 10 percent of your discretionary income. You are eligible for forgiveness after consecutive payments for 20 years.

Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

  • ICR plans are available for Direct Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans.
  • Payments will be calculated by whichever of the following is less: 20 percent of your discretionary income or the amount you’d pay on a fixed 12-year repayment plan, adjusted to your income. Eligible for forgiveness after consecutive payments for 25 years.

Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan

  • This type of repayment plans is available for Federal Stafford Loans, FFEL PLUS Loans, and FFEL Consolidation Loans.
  • Your annual income is the basis for how much your payments are — the formula used will vary by lender. Ten years is the maximum repayment term.

Remember, you have to reapply for these repayment plans annually and the amount forgiven might be subject to taxes. Also, the above plans — except for the Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan — will keep you in debt longer unless you qualify for loan forgiveness.

2. My loans are varied and confusing

If your loans are hard to track, thanks to a jumble of due dates, interest rates, and balances, you have an option to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. And doing so can make your loans eligible for some of the income-driven repayment plans mentioned above.

The idea behind consolidation is to combine federal loans with various servicers and interest rates into one. Applying for Direct Loan Consolidation is a free process.

However, keep in mind that one you consolidate your federal loans through Direct Loan Consolidation, it restarts the clock on any progress you’ve made toward loan forgiveness.

Here are a few other pros and cons of Direct Loan Consolidation, according to Federal Student Aid:

Pros of Direct Loan Consolidation

  • Simplify your repayment.
  • Lower your monthly payment by lengthening your repayment plan.
  • New access to income-driven repayment plans, getting rid of any variable rates if you have them.

Cons of Direct Loan Consolidation

  • Could be in debt longer and pay more if you increase the length of your repayment plan.
  • Might lose access to options like interest rate discounts and other benefits.
  • Lose credit for any payments you’ve made so far towards forgiveness.

3. I’m hoping to have my loans forgiven

If your main objective is to have your loans forgiven, then you’ll be happy to know that this option is available under the income-driven repayment plans mentioned above.

But first, a list of federal loan forgiveness options:

  • Closed School Discharge: Your school closes while you’re in attendance or within 120 days of your withdrawal.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Forgiveness for those who’ve made 120 qualifying payments while employed in certain nonprofits or government organizations.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Teachers who’ve taught for five consecutive years in eligible schools can have up to $17,500 of their loans forgiven.
  • Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge: Perkins Loans holders of all kinds can have their loans forgiven, including nurses, teachers, firefighters, and more.
  • Total and Permanent Disability and Discharge: Student loan forgiveness for various federal loan holders who’ve endured a permanent disability.
  • Discharge Due to Death: Federal loans of the deceased can be discharged.
  • Rare: Discharge in Bankruptcy: Borrowers who can prove undue hardship might be able to have their student loans discharged.
  • False Certification of Student Eligibility or Unauthorized Payment Discharge: Some federal student loans can be discharged if you were not truly eligible, if the loan was taken out without your knowledge, or if you will never be able to qualify to work in the field you intend to study.
  • Unpaid Refund Discharge: Your loans might be eligible for discharge if you withdrew in the proper timeframe but your school didn’t send a refund to the government.
  • Borrower Defense Discharge: Students of schools who misled them or violated specific laws might be able to have their student loans forgiven.

As you can see, most of these forgiveness plans are circumstantial. However, here are several that you can actively work to qualify for and how they work.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  • Applies to Direct Loans or Direct Consolidation Loans.
  • Full-time employees of governmental organizations, 501(c)(3) not-for-profits, and other qualifying not-for-profits become eligible for forgiveness after making 120 qualifying payments on a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan or an income-driven repayment plan.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

  • Not available for PLUS Loans or Federal Perkins Loans. (However, teachers with Perkins loans can go through Teacher Cancellation.)
  • Full-time teachers working at qualifying schools for five years are eligible for up to $17,500 of forgiveness.

Forgiveness from Income-Driven Repayment Plans

  • Anyone on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan can qualify for forgiveness after the required number of years of consecutive payments, usually 20 or 25 years.

All of these are subject to change as laws around student loans change. Also, remember that forgiven debt might be taxable, depending on the laws at the time you receive debt forgiveness.

4. I can afford my payments, and I want out of debt faster

If you’re wondering “What are my student loan repayment options if I want to get out of debt faster?”, consider the following three types of repayment plans that aren’t income-driven:

  • Standard Repayment Plan
    Fixed payments with a repayment plan up to 10 years, or up to 30 years for Consolidation loans.
  • Graduated Repayment Plan
    Payments start small and gradually increase on a pre-set schedule. Repayment plan is up to 10 years or, up to 30 years for Consolidation loans.
  • Extended Repayment Plan
    Can be fixed or graduated payments. Repayment plan is up to 25 years.

If you want to switch to a different student loan repayment option, ask your servicer to do this for you. It’s a free service and can be done anytime.

There are other ways to pay your loans off faster besides switching your student loan repayment plan. For example, refinancing for a lower interest rate can be most effective. With a lower interest rate, more of your money can go to your principal balance.

However, keep in mind:

  • If you choose a longer repayment plan, you could end up paying more on your loans (depending on the interest rate and the length of the plan).
  • Refinancing federal loans turns them into private loans, thus removing federal student loan repayment options such as income-driven repayment plans.

Other things you could do include switching to biweekly payments and applying extra money such as tax refunds to your loans so you can make even more progress quickly.

Can you change student loan repayment plans with private student loans?

There are clearly a wide variety of student loan repayment options with federal student loans. Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many options for private loans.

While it might seem like this lack of options is unfair, private student lenders have their hands tied. U.S. News explains why:

Private student loans fall under a category called retail credit, and all its associated rules and multiple state and federal regulators. With very few exceptions, lenders of retail credit are not allowed to offer any programs or alternatives to a loan that would substantially alter the terms of the loan.

U.S. News goes on to explain that this is the reason most private student lenders can rarely offer relief for more than six months — or 12 at the absolute most. That relief, which can include things like interest-only payments or forbearance, can usually be utilized for longer on federal student loans.

That said, you’re not without options. So if now you’re wondering, “Can you change student loan repayment plans on private loans?”, the answer is yes, sometimes you can. Here are repayment options for two of the most common pain points:

1. I can barely afford my monthly payments

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, there are some options available to you for your private loans. However, those options will depend on your lender.

For example, some private student loan lenders will offer short-term forbearance or even unemployment protection.

The best thing you can do if you’re struggling with your private student loan payments is to contact your lender immediately. Even if you can’t find options on their website, call and ask. You lose nothing by asking.

2. I want to get out of debt faster

If your main goal is to pay off debt faster, then refinancing for a lower interest rate is a great option. However, there are a few things to consider, as the terms you pick can make a big difference:

  • Don’t accept a variable rate unless you’re very comfortable with knowing your interest rate (and thus payments) can go up at any time.
  • If you can afford the payments on the shortest repayment plan, choosing that will help you get out of debt faster.
  • Another option could be to select a term you’re more comfortable with and paying extra anytime you have more room in your budget or receive a large sum of money, such as a birthday gift or a bonus.

It can be hard to pick the right length of repayment because you want to be ambitious and pay the debt off faster. However, try not to squeeze your budget so tightly that you could end up going delinquent on your loans.

Try to strike the right balance — and remember, you can always make extra payments.

Don’t forget: You do have student loan repayment options

Student loans can be difficult to manage at times, but that doesn’t mean you have to be completely stuck. If you need to change your student loan repayment plan, tackle it head-on.

The more quickly you can change your monthly payments for the better, the sooner you’ll be able to get your loans back under control.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 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% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.

Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.

However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.979% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.30% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR 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. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.


6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.29%. Variable interest rates range from 2.79%-8.39% (2.79%-8.39% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 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. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.

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