Some federal student loans can have a 30-year term, but most will start with a 10-year term. You can extend that term by consolidating or enrolling in one of the income-driven repayment plans. Consolidating your student debt won’t lower your interest rate, but it may qualify you for loan forgiveness programs. It may also give you a lower monthly payment amount, especially if you have Parent PLUS Loans.
Related: Can’t Pay Parent PLUS Loans? Here are 6 Options
Each IDR Plan — Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn, and Revised Pay As You Earn — stretches your repayment term to 20 or 25 years, caps your monthly at 10-20% of your discretionary income,* and wipes out your remaining student loan debt after you’ve made your final student loan payment.
Related: Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness
Many private lenders offer terms between 5 and 20 years. You may be able to extend the term by refinancing with a new lender. To get a lower interest rate and better terms through student loan refinancing, you’ll need a good credit score and stable income or a cosigner with both. Use an online marketplace like Credible to shop with several lenders simultaneously.
* President Biden announced that the Education Department is working on a new IDR plan that will cap payments for many federal student loan borrowers at 5% of their discretionary income.