Student Aid on the Web Skip Navigation

Repayment Information

Borrower Grace Periods

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This "grace period" will be

  • Six months for a Federal Stafford Loan (Direct Loan ProgramSM or Federal Family Education Loan (FFELSM) Program).

  • Nine months for Federal Perkins Loans.

PLUS Borrowers—The repayment period for all PLUS Loans begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days of the final disbursement. However, a graduate student PLUS Loan borrower (as well as a parent PLUS borrower who is also a student) can defer repayment while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time, and, for PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, for an additional six months after the borrower is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower during the deferment.

Parent PLUS Loan borrowers whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, may choose to have repayment deferred while the student for whom the parent borrowed is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after that student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the parent during the deferment.

Make Your Payments on Time

Your loan servicer will provide information about repayment and will notify you of the date loan repayment begins. It is very important that you make your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you'll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. If you don't, you could end up in default, which has serious consequences (see Default below). Student loans are real loans—just as real as car loans or mortgages. You have to pay back your student loans.

Get Your Loan Information

The U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data SystemSM (NSLDSSM) provides information on your federal loans including loan types, disbursed amounts, outstanding principal and interest, and the total amount of all your loans. To access NSLDS, go to

If you're not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look it up on or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY 1-800-730-8913). To see a list of Federal Student Aid servicers for the Direct Loan Program and for FFEL Program Loans purchased by the U.S. Department of Education, go to the Loan Servicer page.

Repayment Plans

You have a choice of several repayment plans that are designed to meet the different needs of individual borrowers. The amount you pay and the length of time to repay your loans will vary depending on the repayment plan you choose. Go to Repayment Plans and Calculators for more information about the various repayment plans and to calculate your estimated repayment amount under each of the different plans.

If you have specific questions about repaying FFEL, Direct, or Perkins Loans, contact your loan servicer. In the case of Perkins Loans, your servicer will be the school that made the loan. If you don't know who your loan servicer is, go to to find out.

Loan Interest Rates

The following table provides interest rates for Direct and FFEL Program Loans.

Loan Interest Rates by Disbursement Dates
Loan Type
First Disbursed between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 (Direct Loans Only)
First Disbursed between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2010
First Disbursed between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 2006
Direct and FFEL Subsidized Loans (Undergraduate Students)
Fixed at 4.5%
Fixed at 6.8%

Fixed at 6.0%

Fixed at 5.6%
The interest rate is variable (adjusted annually on July 1st) and will not exceed 8.25%.

Between 7/1/2010 and 6/30/2011, loans in repayment or forbearance have an interest rate of 2.47%, and loans in an in-school, grace, or deferment period have a lower rate of 1.87%.
Direct and FFEL Subsidized Loans (Graduate Students)

Direct and FFEL Unsubsidized Loans
Fixed at 6.8%
Fixed at 6.8%
Direct PLUS Loans
Graduate and
Fixed at 7.9%
Fixed at 7.9%
The interest rate is variable (adjusted annually on July 1st) and will not exceed 9.0%.

Between 7/1/2010 and 6/30/2011, the interest rate is 3.27%.
Graduate and
Not Applicable
Fixed at 8.5%

Additional Interest Rate Information:

  • To access information on your federal loans including interest rates, go to
  • For additional details on Direct Loan and FFEL interest rates effective July 1, 2010, click here

Why does the amount of interest I pay vary from month to month?

Interest accrues on a daily basis on your loans. Factors such as the number of days between your last payment, the interest rate, and the amount of your loan balance determine the amount of interest that accrues each month.

You can calculate the monthly interest on your loan by using the Simple Daily Interest Formula.

Electronic Payment

In some cases, you might be able to reduce your interest rate if you sign up for electronic debiting. To learn more, go to the Electronic Payment page on this website.

Trouble Making Payments

If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Your servicer will work with you to determine the best option for you. Options include:

  • Changing repayment plans.
  • Requesting a deferment—If you meet certain requirements, a deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan.
  • Requesting a forbearance—If you don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make your loan payments, then (in limited circumstances) a forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments.

If you stop making payments and don't get a deferment or forbearance, your loan could go into default (see Default section below), which has serious consequences.


If you default, it means you failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note, the binding legal document you signed at the time you took out your loan. In other words, you failed to make your loan payments as scheduled. Your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government all can take action to recover the money you owe. Here are some consequences of default:

  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.
  • You will be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decide to return to school.
  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe
  • You can be sued.

For more information and to learn what actions to take if you default on your loans, see the Department of Education’s Default Resolution Group Web site.

Loan Cancellation (Discharge)

In certain circumstances, your loan can be cancelled/discharged. Read about cancellation provisions here.

Cancellation and Deferment Options for Teachers

If you're a teacher serving in a low-income or subject-matter shortage area, it may be possible for you to cancel or defer your student loans. Find out whether you qualify.

Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, if you are employed in a public service job, you may have the balance of your loans forgiven if you make 120 on-time monthly payments under certain repayment plans after October 1, 2007. You must be employed full-time in a public service job during the same period in which the qualifying payments are made and at the time that the cancellation is granted. The amount forgiven is the remaining outstanding balance of principal and accrued interest on eligible Direct Loans that are not in default. For additional details, go to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness page on this website.

Civil Legal Assistance Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (CLAARP)

The Civil Legal Assistance Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program was established to encourage qualified individuals to enter and continue employment as civil legal assistance attorneys. Note — The 2010 application process closed August 16, 2010.

Loan Consolidation

A Consolidation Loan allows you to combine your federal student loans into a single loan. Visit the Loan Consolidation page to see whether consolidation is right for you.

Last updated/reviewed September 2, 2010

End of Page