When it comes to repaying your federal student loan, there’s a lot to consider. Understanding the details of repayment can save you time and money. Find out when repayment starts, how to make your payment, repayment plan options, what to do if you have trouble making payments, and more!
You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. However, PLUS loans enter repayment once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out).
Your loan servicer or lender must provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment. Keep in mind that your loan may have a grace period.
The grace period is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repayment on your loan. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Not all federal student loans have a grace period. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.
Circumstances that may change your grace period include the following:
Your bill will tell you how much to pay. Your payment (usually made monthly) depends on
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) uses several loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on loans for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and for loans that were made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and that ED later purchased. You’ll tell your loan servicer which repayment plan you’d like to choose.
There are several ways you can make your payments.
If you want to make electronic payments, you can do the following:
You can make payments before they are due or pay more than the amount due each month. Paying a little extra each month can reduce the interest you pay and reduce your total cost of your loan over time. If you want to ensure that your loan is paid off faster, tell your loan servicer that the extra you pay is not intended to be put toward future payments.
Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You may be able to change your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income. Also ask your loan servicer about your options for a deferment or forbearance or loan consolidation.
If you don’t make your student loan payment or make your payment late, your loan may eventually go into default. If you default on your student loan, that status will be reported to credit bureaus, and your credit rating and future borrowing ability will be damaged. In addition, legal action can be taken to require payment through garnishment of wages and withholding of tax refunds.
You have a right to cancel all or a portion of a loan disbursement within 120 days of the date your school disbursed your loan money (by crediting the loan money to your school, by paying it directly to you, or both). If you choose to cancel, the money you received will have to be returned, but no interest or fees will be charged. See the financial aid office for further information.
You are generally required to repay your student loan. In certain situations, your loan may be forgiven, canceled, or discharged.
Last updated: 11/10/2020