Managing Your Student Loans

Paying off student loans does not have to be a financial burden. From the basics of repayment plans to loan forgiveness, let these resources walk you through the best ways to manage your student loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I manage my student loans?

    Once you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave school early, your federal student loan will go into repayment. Student loans (both public and private) can take years to pay back, and there are various ways to do so. The first step in managing your student loans is to know where your loan came from, who your lender is so you can appropriately pay the funds, and what amount you owe. You will then have a grace period that typically lasts about six months after graduation until you have to make student loan payments. From there, you can choose the repayment plan that best works for you. Everyone’s student loan repayment plan will look different, so it is important to do your research and be prepared for all possible options that best fit your personal circumstances. 

  • How do student loans work?

    A student loan is a loan designed to help individuals pay for some or all of the costs of higher education, as well as associated fees. It is a debt you have to pay back, even if you do not complete school. To be eligible for a student loan, you must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are two types of categories student loans fall into: federal loans and private loans. Federal loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education, and private loans are offered by private lenders like banks and credit unions. Once you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave school early, your grace period will start, giving you the chance to organize a repayment plan that works for you. In most cases, the repayment process will go into effect six months after the grace period begins.

  • How do you get student loans forgiven?

    With federal student loans, there are certain circumstances where you can have your loans forgiven, meaning a portion or all of your debt can be erased from your lender’s books. There are many student loan forgiveness programs available, most of which have to do with the career you choose. For example, depending on the circumstances, you may have your loans forgiven if you are employed by the government or a nonprofit organization, if you are a teacher, if you are a medical professional, or if you work in law. Plus, if you have a federal loan and you're on an income-based repayment (IBR) plan, you can have the balance of your student loan forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on when you took out your loan.

  • How long does it take to pay off student loans?

    How long it takes to pay off your student loans will depend on the type of loan you have and the repayment plan you set up with your loan servicer. With a standard repayment plan and private loans, it will generally take about 10 years to repay your student loans. If you pay under an income-driven repayment plan, on the other hand, you may be eligible for forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of making payments.

Key Terms

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Page Sources

  1. Federal Student Aid. "Student Loan Repayment."

  2. Federal Student Aid. "Student Loan Forgiveness."

  3. Federal Student Aid. "Repayment Plans."

  4. Federal Student Aid. "Servicer Performance Metrics and Allocation: Quarter Ending 06/30/2021," Download "Federal Servicer (TIVAS and NFP) Allocations."

  5. Federal Student Aid. "Student Loan Deferment."