Jon O'Donnell Updated on December 29, 2016

When do student loan payments start?

The first step to repaying your student loan payments is figuring out when you start repaying them. From there, you can start evaluating your current financial situation and weighing it against which repayment plan will be the most affordable and allow you to pay off your student loans fastest.

What is a student loan repayment schedule?

A student loan repayment schedule is the time frame involved in paying off your student loan: the number of years, when you’ll pay your installment each month, and the amount you’ll pay. For instance, if you pick the standard 10-year repayment plan option, you’re on a schedule to make a payment every month for 10 years.  The day your payment is due each month may not be the same date someone else’s is due. Always ask your loan servicer what date your payment is due to be sure you’re able to pay it on-time each month.

What are student loan grace periods?

The term “student loan grace period” refers to the amount of time between when you finish borrowing loans and when you have to pay them. For most federal student loans, the grace period is six months after entering repayment. Repayment generally begins after graduation, but it also can kick in after six months of being less than a half-time student. It’s  important that you check with your loan servicer as to the exact date your loan payments are first due. For private loans, there isn’t a standardized rule as to when repayment begins. Be sure to call your lender to find out when repayment starts.

What if I need more time?

Before you decide whether or not you need more time to make payments, consider your repayment plan options. Ask your servicer if a lower payment may be available via choosing smaller payments over a longer period of time or a repayment plan based on your income. You can also ask for an allowed payment break while you organize your finances to find the money for your monthly payment. These breaks are called “forbearance” and “deferment.”

How much do I pay each month?

How much you pay each month will depend on the type of loan you received, how much money you borrowed, the interest rate on your loan, and the repayment plan you choose  like an IBR or ICR plan.  Payments may range from $0 upward. The best way to find out your payment amount is to call your servicer and ask for repayment plan options.

Should I pay more than my required monthly payment?

The answer to this question depends on whether or not you are on an income-driven repayment plan. These plans can offer some loan forgiveness after 10 years or more of payments. In this case, extra payments will only reduce the amount that can be forgiven. If you want to ensure that your loan is paid off faster and that you don’t qualify for income-driven repayment plan, tell your loan servicer that the extra you pay is not intended to be put toward future payments, but rather that it should be applied to the principal of your loan.

Starting to repay your loans doesn’t have to be as complicated or as expensive as you may think. Take your first steps along the journey of repayment by learning when your first payment is due, as well your options for an affordable payment.

If you are still in college, consider options to spread out tuition payments throughout the year to reduce student loan debt.

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