Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
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It might’ve been at least a few months or even years since you last signed your student loan agreement. And if you’ve graduated or left school, you might be asking, “When I do get my first student loan payment bill?”
Your first student loan payment is typically due after the loan’s grace period. Some student loans don’t offer a grace period and your first payment is expected as soon as funds are fully disbursed.
Learning how soon after graduation student loans are due — and how to pay them — can help you better prepare for loan repayment. Here are three questions you’ll need to ask yourself
- When do I get my first student loan payment?
- How do I make my first student loan payment?
- Does my first student loan payment fit my situation?
Figuring out when your student finance first payment is due can help you plan ahead when repaying your student debt. If you’re still in school, you can get a head start on repayment, but since your loans are likely in deferment, you won’t receive a first student loan payment notification from your servicer.
If you’re not in school, when your first student loan payment is due depends on your grace period. You can find the terms of your grace period on your Master Promissory Note (MPN) that you signed when accepting the loan.
Generally, you’ll have a six-month grace period before you’re required to submit your first student loan payment. However, the length of your grace period — and whether your loan comes with it — differs between lenders and loan types. For example, some federal loans (e.g. Perkins loans) and private student loans (e.g. from Earnest) offer a nine-month grace period.
The clock on your grace period starts when:
- You graduate,
- Are enrolled less than half-time, or
- Withdraw from school.
Since your school determines your date of separation, reach out to your loan servicer to find out when your grace period started and when it ends. Knowing the dates of your grace period helps you anticipate when your first student loan payment is due so you avoid the mistake of missing a payment.
When your grace period expires, your loan status is “in repayment”. If you have federal student loans, you’re automatically put on the Standard 10-year Repayment Plan. But you have the option to switch your payment plan.
That said, it’s important to double-check that your contact information is up to date with your lender or loan servicer. Your servicer needs your current information to notify you when your loan enters repayment, and send your student finance first payment statement.
Track down your federal student loan servicer
Whether you have federal or private loans (or both), your payment might not necessarily be going to the lender. A limited number of student loan servicers handle Federal Direct and PLUS loans (though this list could change in future), including:
- FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)
- Granite State Management & Resources (GSMR) Student Loan Servicing
- Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc
- OSLA Servicing
The servicer should contact you as soon as the loan was disbursed. Notification will also be sent if the Department of Education transfers your loan from one servicer to another.
Even private lenders, like CommonBond, outsource its billing to Firstmark Services. This means your first student loan payment wouldn’t go directly to CommonBond even if it’s your lender.
It’s important to remember that the loan servicer essentially works for you, so if you aren’t sure how to make payments using its billing system, ask them. A customer service rep should be able to tell you about setting up text or email alerts to avoid missing a payment.
Welcome to student finance and your first payment. Once your grace period ends, it’s time to start repayment (and plan how you’ll pay future student loan payments).
You can make your first student loan payment in these three ways:
Perhaps the best way to avoid delinquency is to set up an automatic payment with your servicer. So long as you feel comfortable about always having enough in your account to cover the payment, it will save you a lot of hassle.
Add your bank account and routing numbers to the servicer’s payment management page. You can find these numbers on your checks or by asking your bank over the phone or searching online.
Benefit of this method: By setting up automatic payments, you could qualify for a 0.25% interest rate deduction on federal Direct Loans or a similarly reduced rate on private loans. If you’re not sure this method is for you, educate yourself on the other pros and cons of automating your student loan payments.
If you handle other monthly bills through your bank, it might be convenient to pay your first student loan payment this way. Avoid overdraft fees by keeping your bank account balance high enough to cover the monthly charge.
To set up auto pay via your bank, make the servicer your payee and include the date and value of your automatic payments. Many banks allow you to set up recurring payments for as long as a year. It could take several days for an online transfer to be reflected in your account, so set the bank’s payment date earlier than the actual due date of your student loan’s first payment.
Benefit of this method: Although it’s not advisable or even possible to pay student loans with a credit card, some banks offer rewards for setting up auto pay from a checking account. With Citibank, for example, you might be able to earn monthly points when paying from an account enrolled in Citi ThankYou Rewards. Ask your bank about potential bonuses.
If automatic student loan payments aren’t preferable, do it the old-fashioned way. Most servicers allow borrowers to make payments manually online, through a mobile app (if it has one), over the telephone or via postal mail.
You can use your bank account as a payment method online or over the phone. Save your bank information on the servicer’s website to avoid reentering it each time a payment is due. If you’re paying over the phone, have your routing and account numbers ready.
Online and phone payments are more convenient and less risky compared to traditional mail, especially because of USPS slowdowns, recently. These methods ensure that your payment is received by the servicer immediately and can be applied to your account on time.
Payments can also be manually submitted every month using a check or money order. Some servicers also ask you to follow specific directions when stamping and sending a payment by mail. For example, you might be asked to include a tear-off insert from your bill, write your loan account number on the check or money order, or put the lender’s name on the payment even though you’re sending it to the loan servicer.
Know that the servicer could cash your payment the same day it receives it in the mailbox. It also won’t return the check (or a copy of it). You should, however, see the payment applied online.
Benefit of this method: Even though paying manually takes more time, it also gives you more control. If your bank balance sometimes drops below your monthly loan payment amount — or you don’t want to connect the servicer with your bank at all — this could be the safest choice.
Knowing when your first student loan payment is due and making on-time payments thereafter will help you chip away at your debt and stay in good standing with your lender. If at any point your payment amount isn’t a good fit for your finances, you can explore ways to lower the monthly amount that’s due. (See this post for more on how to prepare for your first student loan payment.)
For example, you might be eligible for an income-driven repayment plan that adjusts your payments so they’re less than 10% of your discretionary income. If you have good credit, you can also consider refinancing your student loans to lock in a lower interest rate and potentially lower monthly payment.
Another smart option is prepaying your debt, if you’re in a financially stable situation. This helps you lower your principal balance and avoid more interest overall so you get out of debt faster. To see if this can help, use our loan prepayment calculator to see how much money you can save.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.39%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 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 June 1, 2021.
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 2.59% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance 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 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
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 from 2.74% APR to 6.74% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.39% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for Navient.
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 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
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.