When it comes time to repay your federal student loans, you have many different options for repayment plans. Each of these repayment plans come with their own terms, benefits, and potential drawbacks, so it’s important to understand each fully before you opt into any of them.
The most common student loan repayment plan is known as Standard Repayment. If you have borrowed federal student loans and haven’t opted into a different repayment plan, then you will by default be placed into Standard Repayment.
Below we answer all of the most common questions about Standard Repayment so that you can make a more informed decision about whether or not it is right for you.
What is the Standard Repayment Plan?
The Standard Repayment Plan is the default repayment plan for federal student loans. It is designed so that borrowers will have paid off their loans after 10 years of level monthly payments. This means that if you pursue Standard Repayment, you will ultimately make 120 monthly payments, each of which will be equal; the amount doesn’t change over time.
Consolidation Loans may have longer terms, and can be repaid within 10 to 30 years.
What types of loans are eligible for the Standard Repayment Plan?
Because this is the default repayment plan, all federal student loans are eligible for Standard Repayment. This includes:
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Federal Stafford Loans
- Direct Parent PLUS Loans
- Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
- Direct Consolidation Loans
How long will repayment last?
Standard Repayment lasts for 120 payments, or 10 years, not including any periods of deferment or forbearance. If you have consolidated multiple loans, then Standard Repayment may last from 10 to 30 years depending on how much debt you have consolidated.
How much will I pay?
Your monthly payment under Standard Repayment is likely to be a little higher compared to other plans. The benefits, however, is that your payment amount will never increase, and by repaying your loan quicker, you will pay less in interest over the life of the loan.
That being said, you can always make additional payments in order to pay off your student loans faster, even under Standard Repayment. This can help you save money in the form of interest, and free you from your debt faster.
Can my loan be forgiven?
The Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is designed to forgive student loans after a borrower has made 120 consecutive payments. Because Standard Repayment is designed to be complete after 120 payments, you will unfortunately not be eligible for forgiveness under this repayment plan.
If you would like to pursue student loan forgiveness, then an income-driven repayment plan such as the ones below may be a better option:
Pros and Cons of Standard Repayment
Pros of Standard Repayment:
- At 10 years, Standard Repayment offers the shortest repayment term (along with Graduated Repayment)
- Payments remain the same over the life of the loan, making it easier to budget for the long haul
- You will pay less in interest compared to other repayment plans
Cons of Standard Repayment:
- You will have higher monthly payments compared to other repayment plans
- If you have limited income, it can be difficult to make payments
How to Apply for Standard Repayment
Because this is the default repayment plan for all federal student loans, if you have not opted into a different repayment plan, then you are already enrolled in Standard Repayment and there is nothing left to do.
If you are currently repaying your student loans under a different repayment plan and wish to change to Standard Repayment, all you need to do is contact your student loan servicer.
Alternatives to Standard Repayment
If you find yourself having a difficult time making your payments under the Standard Repayment, you may want to consider opting into a different repayment plan. Depending on the specific types of loans that you have borrowed and your income, you may be eligible for:
- Graduated Repayment
- Extended Repayment
- Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
- Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
- Income-Sensitive Repayment