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How long does it take to pay off a student loan?

It depends on your repayment plan and term (period of time). Ask your loan servicer what repayment plans are available to you. Your options will be different depending on whether you have federal or private student loans.

Federal student loans

If you have federal student loans, there are several repayment plans that may be available to you. Contact your servicer to discuss repayment plans and learn more about how to apply and enroll in a different repayment plan.

Repayment option

Payment term

Things to remember

Standard repayment


Payments are the same each month. All federal borrowers are automatically enrolled in this plan.

120 months (10 years, or up to 30 years for
consolidation loans)

All federal loan borrowers are eligible. This generally results in the highest monthly payment but the lowest cost over the life of the loan.

Graduated repayment


This plan is for borrowers who expect their incomes to rise over time.

Up to 10 years (up to 30 years for consolidation loans)

All federal loan borrowers are eligible. Payments start off low and increase every two years. You will pay more interest over time than under the standard repayment plan.

Extended repayment


This plan is available to borrowers with more than $30,000 in federal student loans.

Up to 25 years

If you extend the term of your loan, you will pay substantially more interest over time, but your payments will besignificantly smaller.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans



  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

If you repay your loan under an income-driven repayment plan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments, or even as few as 10 years, if you work in public service.

Income-driven repayment plans cap your monthly payments at a certain percentage of your discretionary income. Your monthly payment may change as your income or family size changes. You must “recertify” your income and family size each year – submit paperwork to stay enrolled in your income-driven repayment plan.

Private student loans

Unlike federal student loans, there is no standard repayment schedule for private student loans. Generally speaking, many private student loans give you 120 months (10 years) to repay. However, some private student loan terms have you repay over 25 years. Check the terms and conditions of your loan or contact your servicer for more details on how long it will take you to repay your private student loans.

You may have options to lower your monthly payment. Many private student lenders have alternate payment programs for borrowers who might not be able to make a full payment. These plans may include:

  • Graduated repayment: a plan where your payments start out lower and gradually increase over time.
  • Extended repayment: a plan where you pay less each month but extend the life of your loan over a longer period of time.

TIP: Asking for help when you run into trouble can keep you from falling further behind. Contact your student loan servicer and ask what options are available to you. Your student loan servicer is the company that sends you a bill each month.