Repayment: What to Expect

Frequently Asked Questions

How much have I borrowed (federal student loans only)?

Go to nslds.ed.gov and log in using your FSA ID. Then choose “Financial Aid Review” to access your loan history.

When do I need to start paying my loans back?

Federal student loans do not require payments while you are enrolled in school at least half-time (6 credits or more per semester). Once you graduate or go below half-time, you enter a grace period. When the grace period is over, repayment begins.

The following loans have grace periods as follows:

Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans: 6 months

Perkins Loans: 9 months

PLUS loans: The repayment period for all PLUS loans begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days of the final disbursement.

However, a graduate student PLUS loan borrower (as well as a parent PLUS borrower who is also a student) can defer repayment while the borrower is enrolled at least half time, and, for PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, for an additional six months after the borrower is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower.

Parent PLUS loan borrowers whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, may choose to have repayment deferred while the student for whom the parent borrowed is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after that student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower.

What is the maximum amount I can borrow?

The aggregate/lifetime limits for Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans are as follows:

Pharmacy Students

Total (subsidized and unsubsidized combined): $224,000
Subsidized limit: $65,500

Graduate Students

Total (subsidized and unsubsidized combined): $138,500
Subsidized limit: $65,500

Independent Undergraduate Students

Total (subsidized and unsubsidized combined): $57,500
Subsidized limit: $23,000

Dependent Undergraduate Students

Total (subsidized and unsubsidized combined): $31,000
Subsidized limit: $23,000

What are the aggregate/lifetime limits for Grad PLUS and Private Loans?

They have no limits.

What will my monthly payments be when I graduate?

Get an estimate using a repayment calculator.

What are the options for repayment?

Visit the Department of Education website for descriptions of available plans and for repayment calculators.

Consider a single borrower earning $30,000 a year with $40,000 in federal education loans. Using the 2009 poverty line of $10,830 for the continental US, the monthly payment cap for each plan would be as follows:

  • Standard 10-year repayment will be $460.32
  • Income-contingent repayment will be $319.50
  • Extended 25-year repayment will be $277.63
  • Income-based repayment will be $171.94

Borrowers can change plans once a year.

Contact the servicer of your loans to determine what your monthly payments would be under a particular plan and choose the plan that makes the most sense for you financially.

What can I do to reduce my monthly payments?

Borrow conservatively while you are in school and try to pay interest on all unsubsidized loans while you are in school. You can request to receive interest statements from your servicer.

What are my options for consolidation?

Federal student loans can be consolidated together through Direct Loans/the U.S. Department of Education.

Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans, Perkins Loans, and Grad PLUS loans can be consolidated together. Parent PLUS loans cannot be consolidated with student loans, but the parent may consolidate all previous parent PLUS loans together.

Can I consolidate my private loans?

Private student loans cannot be consolidated with federal student loans (Subsidized/Unsubsidized, Perkins, PLUS) but may be able to be consolidated together. Check with the lenders of any private loans you have to see if they offer private loan consolidation and what the terms are.

What are the benefits of consolidation?

You will have one monthly payment and one point of contact for your loans that are consolidated together. Your interest rate will be a weighted average of the interest rates on all the loans.

What if I am having difficulty making my payments?

Contact your lender to ask about deferment and forbearance options.