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When and how do I start paying my student loans?

For most federal student loans, you will start making payments six months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment in school. For private student loans, your lender or servicer should provide you with information on when and how to pay your loan.

Federal Student Loan Repayment

Most federal loans have a "grace period." This is a time after you graduate, leave school, or when you drop below half-time school enrollment when you don't have to make payments . For most loans, interest will continue to grow during your grace period.

  • Direct Loans, including Grad PLUS, and Stafford Loans (Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized), have a six-month grace period.
  • Parent PLUS loans don’t have a grace period, so parents must start repaying the loan as soon as the child or the school receives the loan funds. However, parents can request to defer making payments while their child is in school and for an additional six months after their child graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment. Parents can contact their loan servicer for more information about how to delay making payments.
  • Perkins loans have a nine-month grace period. (No new Perkins loans have been issued since 2017.)

The definitive source for your current federal student loan balances, including information about whom to pay and when, is the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.

Towards the end of your grace period you will want to decide whether or not to consolidate your federal student loans, determine your repayment plan, and determine whether to enroll in autopay. When you make payments, you will make them to your loan servicer. If you don’t know who your loan servicer is, you can find out by accessing your StudentAid.Gov account .

Private Student Loan Repayment

Your private student lender or servicer should reach out to you about your loan payments. This can come in the form of an email or a billing statement that is mailed to you each month. Some lenders provide a “welcome kit” or phone call when a borrower enters repayment. Contact your loan servicer for more information.

If you’re not sure who your loan servicer is, check your original loan paperwork (such as a promissory note or disbursement notice). If you can’t find those papers, check your credit report for your lender’s name or contact your school’s financial aid office to assist you in locating your lender or servicer.