As you leave college and plan for the future, you face many options and opportunities. You might be thinking about starting your career, buying a new car, owning a home, getting married, traveling, or starting a business. By managing the repayment of your student loans, you can meet your responsibilities, avoid financial problems and help ensure a clean financial record for your future.
If you borrow, keep in touch with your lender or the holder of your loan, especially if personal circumstances change. Lenders/holder of your loan are often willing to work with borrowers to make repayment possible and easier. You may be eligible for consolidation programs or deferment/forbearance plans.
With the standard plan, you’ll pay a fixed amount each month until your loans are paid in full. Your monthly payments will be at least $50, and you’ll have up to 10 years to repay your loans.
Your monthly payment under the standard plan may be higher than it would be under the other plans because your loans will be repaid in the shortest time. For that reason, having a 10-year limit on repayment, you may pay the least interest.
Under the extended plan, you’ll pay a fixed annual or graduated repayment amount over a period not to exceed 25 years. If you’re a FFEL borrower, you must have more than $30,000 in outstanding FFEL Program loans. If you’re a Direct Loan borrower, you must have more than $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans. This means, for example, that if you have $35,000 in outstanding FFEL Program loans and $10,000 in outstanding Direct Loans, you can choose the extended repayment plan for your FFEL Program loans, but not for your Direct Loans. Your fixed monthly payment is lower than it would be under the Standard Plan, but you’ll ultimately pay more for your loan because of the interest that accumulates during the longer repayment period.
This is a good plan if you will need to make smaller monthly payments. Because the repayment period will be 25 years, your monthly payments will be less than with the standard plan. However, you may pay more in interest because you’re taking longer to repay the loans. Remember that the longer your loans are in repayment, the more interest you will pay.
With this plan, your payments start out low and increase every two years. The length of your repayment period will be up to ten years. If you expect your income to increase steadily over time, this plan may be right for you. Your monthly payment will never be less than the amount of interest that accrues between payments. Although your monthly payment will gradually increase, no single payment under this plan will be more than three times greater than any other payment.
Income Based Repayment (IBR) Effective July 1, 2009
Income Based Repayment is a new repayment plan for the major types of federal loans made to students. Under IBR, the required monthly payment is capped at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on income and family size. You are eligible for IBR if the monthly repayment amount under IBR will be less than the monthly amount calculated under a 10-year standard repayment plan. If you repay under the IBR plan for 25 years and meet other requirements you may have any remaining balance of your loan(s) cancelled. Additionally, if you work in public service and have reduced loan payments through IBR, the remaining balance after ten years in a public service job could be cancelled.
Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) (Direct Loans Only)
This plan gives you the flexibility to meet your Direct Loans℠ obligations without causing undue financial hardship. Each year, your monthly payments will be calculated on the basis of your adjusted gross income (AGI, plus your spouse’s income if you’re married), family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans. Under the ICR plan you will pay each month the lesser of:
1. The amount you would pay if you repaid your loan in 12 years multiplied by an income percentage factor that varies with your annual income, or
2. 20 percent of your monthly discretionary income.
If your payments are not large enough to cover the interest that has accumulated on your loans, the unpaid amount will be capitalized once each year. However, capitalization will not exceed 10 percent of the original amount you owed when you entered repayment. Interest will continue to accumulate but will no longer be capitalized (added to the loan principal).
The maximum repayment period is 25 years. If you haven’t fully repaid your loans after 25 years (time spent in deferment or forbearance does not count) under this plan, the unpaid portion will be discharged. You may, however, have to pay taxes on the amount that is discharged.
As of July 1, 2009, graduate and professional student Direct PLUS Loan borrowers are eligible to use the ICR plan.
For more information on these programs please visit www.studentloans.gov