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:
- 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?Here are the top 8 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
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 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% 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 December 13, 2019, 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 12/13/2019. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student 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 SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Figure.
Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.
5 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.
6 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
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 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.
7 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 12/07/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
8 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Disclosures
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 12/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
|1.99% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.31% – 7.36%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.75%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.65%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 7.60%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.85% – 6.13%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 8.59%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.74% – 6.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|