How Long Does it Take to Pay off Student Loans?

When it comes time to take out or pay off a loan, students may be wondering: how long does it take to pay off a student loan? The time it takes to repay student loans depends on the type of loan, the balance, and the repayment schedule. The repayment periods can be between 10 and 30 years. It might sound overwhelming, but there are many ways to customize your payment period. Read on to learn more about how long loan repayments take.

Standard Repayment Plan

Ten year Repayment Period

Federal Family Education (FFEL) and Federal Direct Loan borrowers are included in the standard amortization schedule. This plan has a ten-year payment term and payments are a minimum of $50 a month. The Standard payment plan is perfect for paying off loans quickly and keeping your interest rate low. Following this plan will save you money on interest over time.

10-30 Year Repayment Period

Direct consolidation loans can also be repaid through the standard amortization schedule. Direct consolidation loans combine all federal loans into one loan. This increases the loan balance and thus the repayment period longer. Direct consolidation loans can take 10 to 30 years to repay.

The standard plan does not work for everybody. According to, it takes an average of 20 years for a graduate to pay off their debt. There are other plans that allow students to extend their payment term if needed.

Extended and Graduated Repayment Plans

The government offers extended and graduated federal loan repayment schedules.

Ten-Year Graduated Repayment Period

The graduated payment plan keeps the 10-year payment term but makes the monthly repayments more manageable. Payments start low and increase every two years. This is a good plan if your income is currently low but you expect it to increase over time.

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25-Year Extended Repayment Plan

The extended repayment plan has a payment period of 25 years. Students have the option to choose between graduated or fixed payments in this plan. The longer repayment term keeps monthly payments low, but you will pay more interest over time.

Income-Based Repayment Plans

If you need to keep your payments low relative to your income, an income-based repayment plan might be ideal for you. The government offers 4 income-based repayment plans. Each is different in their own way, but all extend your payment term to 20 or 25 years. As with the extended payment plan, this means you pay more interest.

Private Student Loans

The repayment plans listed above are only offered by the government for federal loans. Private lenders have their own terms and payment schedules. Most lenders offer a ten-year repayment period similar to the government. Others offer a 25-year payment plan. With private loans, the repayment term depends on your debt and the terms of the lender.

Be sure to find out about the terms of your personal loans to find out how long it will take to pay them off.

Tips on How to Repay a Student Loan Quickly

Since longer payment periods mean more interest, you should try to pay off your loans as quickly as possible.

Pay More Each Month

The best way to pay off your debt quickly is to make more than the minimum payment each month. This keeps interest rates low throughout payment, saving you time and money. Adding a little more to each repayment can pay off your debt faster.

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Pay Every Two Weeks

Another smart way to speed up loan repayments is to pay every two weeks instead of every month. Calculate your bi-weekly payment by dividing your monthly payment by two. Pay this amount every two weeks. You pay the same amount each month, but you will have made an additional payment at the end of the year.

Stick to Your Repayment Schedule

Finally, create and stick to a budget. It’s important to keep payments consistent to avoid falling behind or having to extend your payment period through deferrals or forbearance.

Remember to think ahead when repaying your student loans and plan accordingly. You won’t be in debt forever and you will feel great when you have made your final payment!

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