In most cases, knowledge is power — especially with student loans.
Knowing how much you owe, how long it will take to pay off your student loans and ways to compare repayment plans can help you decide the best strategy for you.
You can design or use a student loan payoff calculator in Excel, but if math is not your thing, there are loan calculators that can help you do the heavy lifting.
Here are some great student loan calculators from around the web that can help you to make smart, informed decisions concerning your repayment strategy — plus our tips for building your own student loan repayment spreadsheet if you’re so inclined.
1. Loan Simulator (U.S. Department of Education)
2. Student Loan Prepayment Calculator (Student Loan Hero)
3. The College Scorecard (Department of Education)
4. Student Loan Refinancing Calculator (Student Loan Hero)
5. Student Loan Calculator (The Washington Post)
6. Student Loan Deferment Calculator (Student Loan Hero)
7. Student Loan Payoff vs. Invest Calculator (Student Loan Hero)
● Plus: Create or co-opt a student loan payoff calculator in Excel
What it does: Compares repayment plans for student loans.
Why it’s helpful: Uses your loan and income information to show monthly payments and amounts paid on various repayment plan options.
The Loan Simulator (previously known as the Repayment Estimator) is handy for determining how much of your student loans could be forgiven if you’re on an eligible plan. The estimator uses your specific loan information, only sharing the repayment plans you’re eligible for.
It’s important to know that the Loan Simulator takes your current income and assumes that your discretionary income will grow by the same percentage annually.
If you’re using the calculator to estimate your fit for (or savings under) Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), try confirming the Simulator’s output with what our PSLF calculator spits out.
The Simulator is provided by Federal Student Aid (FSA), which is an office of the Department of Education. It also helps current students estimate the affordability of more borrowing.
What it does: Shows you the effects of adding extra payments or paying off your student loans in a certain period.
Why it’s helpful: Increasing your monthly repayments will likely help you save money and pay off your loans more quickly.
The student loan prepayment calculator from Student Loan Hero makes calculations easier.
For example, say you have $30,000 in student loans on a 10-year repayment plan. Your interest rate is 5.5%, so you’re paying $325 a month. If you added $50 to your payment each month, you’d save $1,634 in interest while shaving off 20 months from your total repayment.
If you’re making extra student loan payments, it’s important to make sure they’re calculated correctly.
And if you’re interested in prepaying your student loan debt on occasion, when you receive a windfall, try our Lump Sum Extra Payment Calculator, too.
What it does: Compares the average student loan debt of graduates from specific colleges.
Why it’s helpful: Automatically imports data by college, including the percentage of students who borrow as well as their median amount of debt and monthly payment.
If you don’t know the average debt load of the college you’re attending or considering, the Department of Education’s College Scorecard will import a value automatically. All you have to do is type in the school’s name.
Also, Education Department secretary Betsy DeVos announced in December 2020 that a revamped version of the Scorecard allowed users to “compare average earnings two years after graduation based on field of study and how much federal student loan debt they can expect to incur, including new information on Parent PLUS loans.” That update makes the calculator more useful for families in which moms and dads are considering borrowing on behalf of their children.
With that said, the Scorecard’s data points are averages that serve as a guide, not the be-all-end-all. So use the College Scorecard (admittedly, more of a tool than a calculator) with this context. And also keep in mind that it doesn’t account for the median private student loan debt; just federal.
If you’re already applying to colleges or have received financial aid award offers, employ our aid package comparison tool.
What it does: Compares the savings of refinanced loans to current loans.
Why it’s helpful: Shows how much you can save by refinancing.
Many of these calculators show you what happens when you change your monthly payments and/or the length of your loan term. But there’s a way to reduce the total cost of your loans and reduce monthly payments at the same time: student loan refinancing.
If you’ve gotten a salary boost, are living in a less expensive city, or are interested in reallocating your budget to prioritize paying off student loans, it can pay to try calculator tools to assess different scenarios. In many cases, refinancing your student loans can save you money.
For example, let’s say you have $40,000 in student loans at a 6.5% interest rate on a 20-year repayment period. Over the course of the loan, you’d pay $31,575 in interest. But if you refinanced the loan to pay it off over 15 years at a 5.5% interest rate, you’d instead pay $18,830 in interest. In the first scenario, you’d pay $298 a month; in the second one, you’d pay $327 a month.
The student loan refinancing calculator from Student Loan Hero helps you to decide whether this decision could be right for you based on potential loan offers you’ve received. Enter your current loan balance, term and interest rate, and the one you’re considering, and the calculator will estimate your savings.
Student Loan Refinancing Calculator
If you can funnel more cash toward your student loan, it makes sense to do so. It also makes sense to compare interest rates across loan offers and see if it’s possible to refinance to a lower interest rate. After all, in the situation described above, paying an extra $29 a month would add $12,745 in savings, so it may be worth taking a look at your budget and seeing where there’s some wiggle room.
If you’re unsure of what rates are available, we provide recommendations on some of the best student loan refinancing options currently available so you can get accurate savings estimates.
What it does: Shows you how much you need to afford your student loans.
Why it’s helpful: Imports salary information for your chosen profession.
The Student Loan Calculator from The Washington Post is quite helpful for comparing student loan debt to income in a given profession.
It imports data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles information on wage estimates. But beware: The salary is the median salary regardless of experience — not the median starting salary.
Your individual salary will depend on specifics, including the company you work for, the region where it’s located, and your own experience. You can use this calculator as more of an estimate to help you get a sense of which jobs may help you pay back your student loans in the time period you desire.
What it does: Calculates the cost of deferring loans.
Why it’s helpful: Indicates how much extra you’ll pay by deferring loans.
This student loan deferment calculator is the simplest on the list, yet it still applies to everyone who takes out student loans. It answers the question of how much deferring loans will cost you.
You should know this number since interest charges don’t stop with unsubsidized loans in deferment. Instead, interest will keep adding up on top of your principal balance, and you don’t want to be surprised when your principal turns out to be higher than your initial balance.
This calculator can help you find out whether deferring student loans makes sense for you.
Student Loan Deferment Calculator
What it does: Helps you determine if it’s better to pay off debt or invest first.
Why it’s helpful: Assists to settle the age-old question of paying off debt or investing based on your situation.
Which will be better off for you in the long run: paying more toward your student loans or investing that money? The student loan payoff vs. invest calculator from Student Loan Hero can help you figure it out.
Simply input your current loan info, including balance and interest rate, and your current investment info, including retirement savings and years of contribution, among other things.
For example, say you have a student loan balance of $35,000. You’re making monthly payments of $383 at an interest rate of 5.7%. At the same time, you have $5,000 in retirement savings at an annual rate of return of 6%. Your current monthly contribution is $200 and you plan to contribute for 20 more years.
The calculator will show you how much quicker you’d pay off your student loans if you paid an extra $317 a month — or $700 total. But it would also show you how your retirement fund would grow if you invested that $317. Then, it’ll show you the long-term results.
Payoff vs. Invest Calculator
Time to repayment
|Time to repayment||—||—||—|
On the other hand, if you decided to invest the extra $317 per month for —, here are your results:
|Original||With Extra Investment||Savings|
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If you’re looking for something more permanent than a single calculation, it might be wise to create your own student loan repayment spreadsheet.
Student Loan Hero founder Andy Josuweit, who conquered $107,000 in education debt, created such a spreadsheet for himself to cut his budget and calculate the age by which he’d be debt-free. You can download the whole thing here but this is what some of it looked like:
Of course, you don’t have to go to the trouble of creating your own student loan repayment spreadsheet. There are student loan payoff calculators in Excel that have already been built by other borrowers. Using a template can be a time-saver.
The college loan calculator template available via Microsoft, for example, can help you track your loans and payments. Unlike with the calculators listed above, it’s a living document that you can save on your desktop until the day you’re debt-free.
Besides student loan payoff calculators in Excel, there are other Microsoft templates to help you progress in repayment. Borrower Caitlin Navratil, for example, paid off $15,000 in student loan debt in 10 months, thanks, in part, to a loan amortization schedule template in Excel.
Of course, building or even maintaining a student loan repayment spreadsheet isn’t for everyone. So if you want to track your repayment without inputting formulas into cells, you could also try an online service or mobile app. The My LendingTree dashboard, for example, also monitors credit scores and other financial information.
Use these calculators to formulate a plan
While paying off your student loans can feel insurmountable, working out the math can help you formulate a plan. That’s true whether you utilize one of the already-built calculators listed above or have interest in creating or co-opting a student loan payoff calculator via Excel, Google Sheets or another service.
By inputting different payment options and comparing the differences in total costs, you can come up with a smart strategy that works with your budget to pay off your student loans.
Based on this info, you can automate payments for the monthly amount you choose. It’s also a smart idea to get into the habit of considering your monthly loan repayment amount whenever you get a salary bump or find yourself with more expendable monthly income.
Understanding just how much you’ll save in the long run can motivate you to pay more now.
And if there’s a student loan problem that can’t be solved by one of the calculators or student loan repayment spreadsheets above, check out our full suite of student loan tools.
Andrew Pentis and Anna Davies contributed to this report.
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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 Feburary 1, 2021.
2 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% 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 October 26, 2020, 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 10/26/2020. 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 [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
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 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 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 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 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% 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.