Student Loan Repayment

You have a lot on your plate. You might be starting a career, moving, making major life plans. Here's what to expect as you prepare to leave college and begin repaying your loans.

Chart your course

Attend an exit counseling conducted by your financial aid office. (Schools participating in federally sponsored loan programs are required to conduct exit counseling before graduation for students who have borrowed through the programs.) You'll be able to discuss your student loan obligations and to ask any questions you have about repayment.

Shortly before your repayment term begins, you will receive a notice—called a repayment obligation or disclosure statement—that tells you when you must start making student loan payments and how much you can expect to pay each month. Compare payment plans and contact your loan servicer if you want to change payment plans.

Pay electronically

Sign up for Automatic Debit to make sure you make your monthly loan payments on time and avoid late fees. Automatic Debit is an easy online option to electronically deduct payments from your checking or savings account, saving you time, stamps, and, most importantly, providing you with peace of mind that you have made your loan repayment on time. Bonus: you may even be eligible for a .25 percentage-point lower interest rate.1

For Sallie Mae customers, managing your account online gives you up-to-date account information and allows you to make payments, change payment plans, and update your address and other personal information – from the convenience of your computer.

Make extra payments whenever possible

Whenever possible, pay a little extra toward your student loans. Giving your student loan payments an occasional bonus or even a raise will reduce the total cost of your loans. And remember, you can pay in part or in full anytime without incurring penalties. By joining Upromise by Sallie Mae, graduates can earn cash back for education expenses, including loan payments. By starting at, members can earn rewards of 5 percent or more on eligible online purchases,2 plus cash back for dining out, booking travel, buying gas, and more. Upromise Loan Link even automatically transfers your rewards to help pay down eligible Sallie Mae-serviced student loans.3 Visit to learn more.

Choose the plan that works best for you

Choosing the right repayment plan for your student loans is an important step toward meeting your financial goals. See which repayment option best meets your needs. Federal student loan repayment options are:

Standard repayment

When you are due to start repaying, you have a choice of plans, otherwise your federal student loans are automatically placed into the standard repayment plan, which will apply until you make a change. You make level monthly payments of principal and interest over the term of the loan – typically 10 years.

Extended repayment

Lower your monthly federal student loan payment through a lengthened repayment term. If you have more than $30,000 federal student loans, you may qualify for this plan. Eligibility restrictions apply.

Graduated repayment

With graduated repayment on your federal student loans, your monthly payments are lower at the beginning of repayment and increase over the term of the loan.

Income-based repayment

Income-based repayment (IBR) offers an opportunity to make affordable payments on Stafford, Grad PLUS, and most federal consolidation loans (excluding those with Parent PLUS Loans). This payment plan is designed to assist those who have high student debt levels relative to their incomes.

Income-sensitive repayment (available only for FFELP loans)

Payments on your federal student loans are based on a percentage of your monthly income - from 4% to 25% - as long as you pay at least the interest that accrues every month. In certain circumstances, payments can be less than interest through the use of reduced-payment forbearance.

Income-contingent repayment and Pay As You Earn (available only for Federal Direct loans)

You can base your monthly payment amount on your adjusted gross income, family size and the total amount of your loans.

Private student loan programs

Eligibility for private student loan repayment plans vary by lender. Private student loans generally do not guarantee repayment entitlements that may be available on some federal loans. Still, most private student lenders work with you one-on-one if you are experiencing temporary financial difficulty. Check the terms you (and your cosigner) agreed to when applying for the loan or contact your loan servicer to learn about the options available to you.

In-school repayment options

If you opted to make interest-only or other payments while in school, congratulations! Not only have you probably helped to lower your total loan costs, you’ve already established a track record of making payments.