Student Loan Standard Repayment Calculator
What is standard repayment?
Standard repayment is a federal student loan program that allows federal borrowers to pay off their loans over ten years by making the same payment each month. It is the most basic repayment plan.
Standard repayment is oftentimes the most streamlined way to pay off your loans, but it also is likely to carry the highest payment(s) of any student loan repayment plan.
If you don't choose another repayment program before you begin making your payments, then you will enter standard repayment by default.
Standard repayment plan monthly payments
Under standard repayment, you'll make 120 equal monthly payments over ten years to pay off your student loan debt, with a minimum monthly payment of $50.
Like other amortized loans, your first payments will be interest heavy, before transitioning into more principal based later in the term.
But you won't notice this difference month to month since you're making equal payments.
Standard repayment payment terms
Your standard repayment term, at least as it pertains to your federal student loans is as follows:
Standard Repayment Term: 10 years
Payments: 120 total payments
Monthly Payments: A consistent monthly payment
By dividing your balance into 120 equal payments, you'll benefit from the predictability of knowing exactly what you'll pay month after month, year after year.
Imagine for a minute that you have a federal loan of $40,000 at an interest rate of 5.2%. This scenario will leave you with a monthly payment of $428 monthly, and a total lifetime cost of $51,382, including interest.
Without prepayment or refinancing your loans, standard repayment is the option that is likely to carry the least paid in interest expense.
Free free to grab your copy of our student loan calculator, which will handle all of these calculations for you!
Which loans are eligible for standard repayment?
You'll be enrolled in standard repayment by default if you have the following types of Direct and Federal Family Education Loans:
Direct PLUS Loans
Direct Consolidation Loans
Direct Subsidized Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
FFEL PLUS Loans
FFEL Consolidation Loans
Standard repayment is a plan for federal loans only, and does not apply to your outstanding private debt.
We've also written a guide to dealing with Parent PLUS loans.
Pros and cons of the standard repayment plan
There are plenty of benefits to using standard repayment as your student loan payoff strategy. Among them are:
Paying less in interest
Your quickest path to becoming debt-free
Pro: Paying less in interest
As compared to alternate strategies, refinancing excluded, standard repayment is likely to be your path with the lowest interest expense. This is due to the default 10-year term that the plan carries, as opposed to the 20-30 years of payments other repayment strategies carry.
With the lower loan term, there is less time for interest to continuously accrue. Federal loans do not carry any prepayment penalties, so you can save more money on interest by paying off extra principal each month.
Pro: Your easiest path to becoming debt-free
Going hand in hand with lower accrued interest, standard repayment likely will be your easiest path to student loan repayment.
Not only is it your default repayment plan, it also won't require any ongoing income verification or recertification process as is the case with income-driven repayment plans.
Pro: Payoff your student loans early
If you can handle your monthly payments where they are now, standard repayment's ten-year term, which is the shortest of all alternate repayment strategies, can provide you with an excellent opportunity to pay off your loans faster.
Now, other strategies also retain eligibility to get out of debt sooner, but standard is likely to be the fastest of them all!
Depending on your financial position, it is also possible that you may experience a con to the standard repayment plan. Among these are:
The highest payments of any repayment strategy
Con: The highest payments of any repayment strategy
Because standard repayment has the potential to be your shortest path to student debt freedom, it also is likely to come with the highest monthly costs. But if you have the cash flow to handle the payments, even for a short period of time until your income climbs higher, then it may make sense to do so.
If you can't currently afford your payments, your first course of action should be to try biweekly budgeting.
But even if monthly budgeting doesn't help, you have alternate student loan repayment strategies such as consolidation and refinancing available to you.
Keep reading for even more strategies!
What if you can't afford standard repayment?
If you're unable to afford your standard repayment payments, there are plenty of alternative repayment plans available for you to consider. Generally, you'll want to consider selecting a new plan if:
You cannot afford the higher payments that standard plans carry
You may be eligible for any type of student loan forgiveness
Check out some alternate plans that you may want to consider below.
Income-driven repayment plans can be a great option for some federal borrowers. Under these plans, your monthly payments will be determined by your discretionary income, household size, and your geographic location. Depending on your unique financial situation, your payments could even be $0.
Plus, instead of making higher payments for 10 years, you'll make lesser payments for a period of 20-25 years.
And at the end of this time, your remaining balance will be forgiven. You have four options under income-driven repayment.
Income-Based Repayment (IBR) - If your loans were taken out after 7/1/2014, your payments will be 10% of your discretionary income for 20 years. If your loans were taken out before 7/1/2014, you'll fall into "Old IBR," where payments are 15% of your discretionary income for 25 years.
Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) - The least favorable of all the IDR plans, ICR requires you to pay 20% of your monthly discretionary income over a period of 25 years.
Pay as You Earn (PAYE) - PAYE sets your payments at 10% of your discretionary income over 20 years, which are the same terms carried by the "New IBR" plan.
Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) - The newest of all IDR plans, payments are capped at 10% of your discretionary income, for 20 years (if undergraduate loans) and 25 years (if graduate loans).
You'll want to pay attention to the interest that accures however. Not only are you likely to pay more in interest over the years, but you'll also want to make sure you're certain IDR is for you.
It is possible that, even with your IDR payments, your outstanding balance could continue to increase if your calculated month payments don't cover the interest that accrues each month. If you leave your IDR plan for any reason, then you'll once again be responsible for the entirety of the balance on your loan.
Another option to consider if you need to consider alternate repayment strategies is private refinancing. Remember how your $40,000 balance at 5.2% left you with a monthly payment of $428?
Let's say you were able to refinance that loan down to 4.25% and extend your term to 15 years. In this instance, you'll pay slightly more over the course of your payment, but you'll drop your monthly payment all the way to $301 per month.
But you can also extend or shorten your term in order to alter your payments by more.
Refinancing can absolutely save you money, but it is important that you keep in mind the potential impacts to doing so.
Check out our 2022 student loan refinancing guide here.
Repayment options for private student loans
There is no such thing as "standard repayment" for you private student loan debt.
When you take out private student loans, your loan agreement will have repayment expectations outlined within it. Now, there is a good chance that the term on these loans will also be ten years, but it is still something that you'll want to be aware of.
And with your private loans, consider paying more each month if you can and if you're sure your loans carry no prepayment penalties.