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

Contact your loan servicer to discuss repayment plans available to you because repayment plans 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 

This is the standard repayment schedule, unless you arrange for a different schedule with your servicer.

120 months (10 years)

Most federal loan borrowers are eligible. Payments are a fixed amount 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 be significantly 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 payments may change as your income or family size changes. You must submit info on your income and family size each year to stay enrolled or maintain a monthly payment based on your income and family size.

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 to find out how long it will take you to repay your private student loans.

You may have options to lower your monthly payment. Many companies say that they 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.

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.