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Explore your student loan repayment options and what student loan monthly payment you can afford with calculators from the trusted resources below.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Know Your Options Tool

Repayment Estimator (Department of Education)

Loan Calculator (FinAid)


Let’s just say what you are already thinking—borrowing to pay for school and repaying those loans can involve a lot of jargon. What follows are definitions for many of these terms.


may occur if you meet certain conditions, such as teacher service, school-related discharges, disability, bankruptcy or death. Learn more.

Consolidation Loans

combine one or more preexisting loans into a single, new loan. Consolidation is often sought out to gain access to better rates or terms and to make repayment easier to manage.

Deferment and Forbearance

refer to ways you can postpone payment on a loan. During this time, interest still accrues unless the loan is subsidized. Learn more.

Direct Loans

are made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Eligible students and parents borrow from the U.S. Department of Education using any of these types of loans: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans. This program replaced FFEL.

Direct Consolidation Loans

allow you to combine one or more federal student loans into a single, new loan. After a direct consolidation, you only make one payment a month and may be able to extend your repayment period.

Direct PLUS Loans

are made to graduate or professional students. Parents of dependent undergraduate students may also borrow under this program.

Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans

are part of the Direct Loan Program (see Direct Loans). A Subsidized Stafford Loan is based on financial need. That means, for those who qualify, the federal government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while the student borrower is still in school, leaving the borrower responsible only for the outstanding principal at graduation.

Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

are part of the Direct Loan Program (see Direct Loans). An Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not based on financial need. Interest on these loans starts accruing with disbursement. The student borrower has the option of paying the interest as it accrues or having it added to the outstanding loan balance once they leave school.

Extended Repayment Plan

is designed to reduce monthly payments by extending the period of repayment for the loan to up to 25 years. Learn more.

Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program

previously provided loans to undergraduate students, parents, graduate students and professionals through private lenders. Now, all federal student loans are made by the U.S. Department of Education under the Direct Loan Program.

Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant)

is a federal grant, not a loan, awarded only to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. It is not repaid.

Federal Perkins Loans (Perkins Loans)

are made to undergraduate and graduate students based on financial need. Learn more at

Federal Student Loans

are funded by the federal government.

FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) Program

previously provided loans to undergraduate students, parents, graduate students and professionals through private lenders. Now, all federal student loans are made by the U.S. Department of Education under the Direct Loan Program.

Graduated Repayment Plan

is for those whose income is low now but is expected to increase over time. Repayment begins with lower payments, which increase every two years.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan

assists borrowers whose student loan debt is high compared to their income. The plan is designed to reduce monthly payments to make them more affordable but only for a borrower who can demonstrate a partial financial hardship. For details, visit the U.S. Department of Education.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan

assists borrowers who do not qualify for the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan or the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan.

Income-Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

structures loan payments for borrowers who have FFEL loans based on their annual income. The payments increase or decrease based on changes in income, which is reported annually. ISR payments are structured for a term of 10 years.

Institutional Loans

are made by your school. Contact your school for repayment options for these loans.

Loan Servicer

is the company that collects payments, responds to your customer service questions and handles any other administrative tasks related to your student loan. For more information, click here.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

is the legal document—detailing terms and conditions—that represents your promise to repay the Direct Loans you receive through the U.S. Department of Education along with any accrued interest and fees. Unless prohibited by your school, you can borrow additional Direct Loans on an MPN for up to 10 years.

Parent PLUS Loans

are made to parents of dependent undergraduate students. Your parents are fully responsible for paying interest regardless of the loan’s status. The loans are issued with a low, fixed rate and have flexible loan limits. Qualification is made with a basic credit check.

Pay As You Earn Program (PAYE)

allows the loan payments of qualified borrowers to be capped at 10% of their discretionary income. Applications for this program are made at

Payback Playbook

from the CFPB provides a personalized snapshot of your repayment options in the form of a disclosure document sent by your student loan servicer. For more information visit

Pell Grant (Federal Pell Grant)

is a federal grant, not a loan, awarded only to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.

Perkins Loans (Federal Perkins Loans)

are made to undergraduate and graduate students based on financial need. Learn more at

PLUS Loans

are available to graduate students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. The borrower is fully responsible for paying all interest regardless of the loan status.

Private Education Loans

are made by a wide variety of for-profit lenders. Contact these lenders about terms and repayment options.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

is only available to borrowers that have made 120 qualifying payments on Direct Loans (after October 1, 2007) while employed full time in certain public service jobs. This may make them eligible to have the remaining balance owed forgiven. Only payments made under certain repayment plans may be counted toward the required 120 payments. Borrowers must not be in default on the loans that are forgiven. Learn more.

Stafford Loans

are offered to students enrolled in accredited U.S. colleges and universities who are attending school at least half time. They have fixed rates and may be subsidized or unsubsidized.

Standard Repayment Plan

allows borrowers to pay off federal student loans in the shortest amount of time. The plan is designed to save borrowers money over time, because monthly payments may be slightly higher than payments made under other plans. Since the loan is paid off in the shortest amount time, the borrower will pay the least amount of interest over the life of the loan.

State Loans

are granted by your college’s state. For repayment options, contact your loan’s servicer or your state’s office of education.

Student Loan Debt Consolidation

is offered through the U.S. Department of Education.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

could be an option for having all or a portion of your outstanding student loans forgiven if you meet certain criteria.

Student loan resources

Whether you need to know more about your student loan repayment options as a borrower, or you are just starting to research your options for paying for college and financing choices, the information below can help.

Types of student loans.

A borrower’s rights and responsibilities.

How to repay a loan.

Deferment and forbearance factsheet.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

If your loan is forgiven.

There may be tax consequences. Talk to a tax advisor about what it means for you or visit

What teachers need to know about their loans.

If you need to submit a complaint.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can assist you with issues related to your student loans.

Before you go: financial options for paying for school.

Five-step guide to applying for financial aid.

Understanding financial aid awards.

Financial aid timeline for high school students.

Financial education

These websites can help you conduct a deeper dive into student loans as a financial topic, as well as how your debt should factor into your money decisions.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

America Saves

Offers tips and tools to help set goals and start saving.

Office of Financial Education

Includes information from various Federal Reserve banks, the SEC, FDIC, U.S. Mint and more. (The Women’s Institute for Financial Education)

Aims to teach women how to take control of their financial lives.

FDIC’s Money Smart

Links to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s “Money Smart for Adults” financial education curriculum.

NEFE’s Help for Consumers

Offers resources to help consumers achieve financial well-being.

Provides official information on student loan issues.

Personal Financial Education from the Federal Reserve

Provides information about banking, money, interest rates and other topics of interest.

Federal Citizen Information Center

Offers free publications on topics from cars and housing to small business and travel.

Practical Money Skills for Life

Helps educators, parents and students practice better money management for life.

Supports your interest in learning to save, invest and manage your money better.

North American Securities Administrators Association’s Investor Education Resources

Includes information about avoiding investment scams and understanding college savings plans.

Wi$eUp Financial Education Program for Women

Geared toward Gen X and Y women, this site promotes financial security through online education and encourages responsible saving habits for future retirement.

U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Financial Literacy Resource Directory

Lists information on the many community organizations that help improve financial literacy.

Council for Economic Education

Promotes economic literacy with students and their teachers.

CNNMoney’s Money 101

Includes a 23-lesson personal finance course from the writers at Money magazine.

Choose to Save’s Retirement 101

Includes downloadable publications and interactive online tools, such as the Ballpark Estimate retirement savings calculation worksheet, the Retirement Personality Profiler and financial planning calculators. by FICO

Helps consumers understand and benefit from the risk-based pricing and credit score disclosure notices they receive in the mail from U.S. lenders in accordance with federal regulations.

Offers seven money essentials from AARP that you can use to fine-tune your financial life.

Who is the NFCC?

Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the nation's first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people's financial well-being.

NFCC members help millions of consumers like you through community-based offices located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Each NFCC member agency has earned our seal by adhering to high standards and ethical practices designed to help you achieve financial stability.

Funding for operations and services comes from an ever-changing combination of federal, state and local government grants, as well as donations from financial industry participants and private donors.

For more on the NFCC, visit

Thank you to our funders.

The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program is an initiative of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in partnership with a broad cross-section of supporters. Together, we are committed to increasing the financial well-being of Americans. This initiative is partially funded by Bank of America, Chase, Synchrony, Wells Fargo and other major financial institutions. We thank all funders and partners who make this program possible. For more information, visit

National Foundation for Credit Counseling
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Suite 505
Washington, DC 20036

For NFCC Media Inquiries:
Bruce McClary
Vice President of Communications