When it comes to student loans, borrowers often want to pay them off as soon as possible. Not only does it help save interest, it also eliminates the anxiety and stress that often comes with having student loan debt hanging over their heads.
It’s difficult to move forward financially under the burden of student loan debt. Debt makes it harder to, for example, buy a new home when you could be using your monthly payment toward a mortgage. Most borrowers don’t want the weight and responsibility of making a monthly payment.
So how long does it take to pay off student loans? Read on to learn about how long it takes to repay both federal and private student loans. You can also check out our Student Loan Prepayment Calculator to figure out how long it will take to pay off your student loans and how much interest you can save by paying them off sooner.
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What is the Standard Payment Plan for Federal Student Loans?
With federal student loans, the Standard Repayment Plan involves making fixed payments made for 10 years starting six months after graduation. With Direct Consolidation Loans and other repayment plans, the term lengths can range from 10 to 30 years, but the borrower would have to choose that longer term when switching to one of these plans.
Since the Standard Repayment Plan for federal loans is the shortest available with the government, payments are higher than they would be other under plans but also help borrowers pay off loans faster than they would otherwise.
No matter what plan you are on, though, you can always make additional payments or pay more than the minimum to help pay off your student loans early.
What is the Average Payment Plan for Private Student Loans?
Repayment plans for private student loans aren’t standardized as federal student loans are. Private student loan repayment terms are up to the discretion of the lender and the borrower. Most private lenders offer multiple repayment plans. Private lenders often offer repayment plans ranging from 5 to 20 years.
Private student loans offer four primary in-school repayment options, as well. First, immediate repayment involves making full payments while the borrower is still in school. Whenever it’s feasible, immediate repayment can be the best option because it minimizes the interest paid.
Secondly, borrowers pay only the accrued interest while they’re still in school when opting for an interest-only plan.
Third, partial repayment plans have students making monthly payments while they’re in school that cover a portion of the interest.
Finally, private student loans can provide full deferment, meaning the borrower doesn’t pay anything while they’re in school, like federal student loans. This option costs borrowers the most in the long run.
Private student loan lenders don’t tend to offer income-driven repayment plans like federal lenders, however, many private lenders do offer interest rate discounts for borrowers who set up automatic monthly payments and sometimes help with repayment during financial hardship.
Tips to Pay Off Student Loans Faster
Borrowers can take several steps on their own to pay off their student loans faster.
First, they can make more than the minimum payment whenever possible or make a lump-sum payment with any extra money, for example from an inheritance. Paying more on loans might not be an option every month, but it’s a good financial decision whenever possible.
Another option is to refinance student loans. Refinancing can lower the interest rate paid on the debt. If you’re considering refinancing, make sure the interest rates are really lower than what you’re currently paying and know what you may be giving up by refinancing federal loans into private loans.
When interest rates are lower, more of each payment goes toward the principal. If you have multiple student loans and you refinance, you can make a single payment each month.
Regardless of the specific route you take, paying off student loans as fast as is possible is a great financial move.
Author: Ashley Sutphin
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