After you finish school, your loans will move into repayment — though some private loans, direct subsidized, and direct unsubsidized loans give a 6-month grace period.
How does paying back student loans work? Paying back student loans works by making monthly payments for the term of your loan. Your student loan servicer will tell you how much to pay each month and the due date.
How many years does it take to pay back a student loan? It can take just a few years or up to 30 years to pay back a student loan. The length of repayment depends on the loan amount, your interest rate, and your repayment terms. Though the Standard Repayment Plan estimates borrowers will finish federal student loan payments in 10 years, most borrowers need twice that time.
Standard loan repayment plans are 10 years, but extended plans can last longer.
Federal loan repayment
The federal government will assign a student loan servicer to collect your student loan payments. You’ll make your monthly payments to the servicer, and the servicer will keep track of how much you owe.
If you have federal direct loans, you may be eligible for a federal consolidation loan. They generally have a lower interest rate than private consolidation loans, and they also offer income-dependent repayment plans.
In some instances, you may be eligible for forbearance, a time when you’re required to make reduced or no payments on your loans.
Forbearances for federal loans are available if you:
Participate in AmeriCorps.
Are in a medical or dental residency program.
Are activated while serving in the National Guard.
Qualify for the U.S. Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program.
Experience financial hardship or other circumstances (though you may or may not be granted a forbearance in these instances).
During forbearance, your loans will still accrue interest. You can apply for forbearance through your student loan servicer.
There are federal loan forgiveness programs available, but they can be challenging to qualify for.
Private loan repayment
Private loan repayment is very similar to federal loan repayment, but you will make payments to your lender. In many cases, your lender may bundle and sell your loan, and they will notify you if you need to make your payments to another company.
If you can make some but not all of your monthly student loan payment, you can look into refinancing or consolidating your loans. I like SoFi, CommonBond, and LendKey for refinancing and consolidation options.
You may find a loan at a lower interest rate or for an extended term that can help you lower your monthly payments.