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What Is the Standard Repayment Plan for Student Loans?

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In a Nutshell

Standard repayment plans are available thanks to several different repayment option choices. These plans include extended, graduated, income-contingent, and income-based. All of these options provide borrowers with the ability to lower their monthly payments or extend the term of their loan thereby keeping their payments low.

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 29, 2023


Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

What Is the Standard Repayment Plan?

The Standard Repayment Plan (SRP) is the default monthly payment plan for all federal student loan borrowers. If you don’t pick another repayment plan within 45 days of graduation (or leaving school), your lender will enroll you in this plan.

The SRP requires borrowers to make 120 equal monthly payments over a 10-year repayment term. The monthly payments are set in advance and at a fixed amount over the loan’s lifetime, meaning they don’t change. They are based on the amount of student loan debt you have, not on your income or ability to pay like with income-driven repayment plans.

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Which Federal Student Loans Are Eligible for the Standard Repayment Plan?

All loans from the Direct Loan Program (subsidized or unsubsidized) and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program are eligible for this plan, including:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Direct PLUS Loans

  • Direct Consolidation Loans

  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

  • FFEL PLUS Loans

  • FFEL Consolidation Loans

Federal Student Loans: A Quick Primer on Loan Types

There are many different types of federal student loans, but most fall into three main categories: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans. The main differences in these types of loans are who’s eligible (based on education level and financial need) and how interest works.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to all borrowers, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, regardless of financial need. Interest accrues on these loans while you’re still in school, but you don’t have to make payments on the loan or interest while you’re in school or during the six-month grace period following leaving or graduating from school.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans are only available to students with financial need. The Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while you’re in school, during the grace period, and during approved deferment periods. 

Direct PLUS Loans

Parents (Parent PLUS Loan borrowers), graduates, and professional students qualify for Direct PLUS Loans. PLUS loans have higher interest rates than other kinds of federal student loans. 

How Do Monthly Payments Work on the Standard Repayment Plan?

When you’re enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan, your debt will be divided into 120 fixed monthly payments. Installments will be no less than $50 each month. 

If you’re curious what your payment would be on the SRP and how much you’d owe after interest, you can use the Federal Student Aid’s Loan Simulator to find out. The Loan Simulator is also a good tool for comparing what your monthly payment would be under different federal student loan repayment plans.

What Are the Other Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans?

Though the Standard Repayment Plan is the default plan for student borrowers, you can choose a different repayment plan at any time. If your student loan payments aren’t affordable, look into your other options on StudentAid.gov or by calling your loan service provider. Remember, you have many options! 

What Is an Income-Driven Repayment Plan (IDR)?

IDR plans take your annual income, discretionary income, and family size into account to come up with an affordable monthly payment. There are four income-based repayment options, including:

The repayment terms vary but range from 20–25 years, after which time you qualify to have the remaining balance of your student loans forgiven.

You must be on an income-driven repayment plan to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

What Are Graduated and Extended Repayment Plans?

If you don’t qualify for an income-driven plan but can’t afford the Standard Repayment Plan, you can look into the Graduated or Extended Repayment Plan.

With the Graduated Repayment Plan, you start out with lower monthly payments that gradually increase over the 10-year repayment period. If you need more time to pay, you can look into an extended repayment. You can combine the extended plan with a graduated payment structure or choose to have a fixed payment that remains the same over the repayment period.

An extended plan allows you to pay off your federal student loan debt over 20–25 years. At the end of the term, you’ll be eligible for student loan forgiveness on the remaining balance.

What Does It Mean To Consolidate Federal Student Loans?

If you’re having trouble juggling multiple monthly federal student loan payments or you simply want to streamline your debt, you can get a Direct Consolidation Loan. When you consolidate your loans, you take out one new loan and use it to pay off your existing loans. The main benefit here is that repayment is streamlined. You only have one payment to think about.

Since this Direct Consolidation Loan is a new line of credit, it will feature a different interest rate and repayment period than those attached to your existing loans. The interest rate is the weighted average of the loans you’re consolidating.

What if I Can’t Manage My Student Loan Debt?

Student loan debt is a major financial burden for over 40 million Americans. If you’re struggling to see how you’ll ever make inroads on your loan balance or you simply can’t afford any monthly payment amount, it may be time to consider your options.

First, talk to your loan servicer. They can help you understand your repayment options, how to get the lowest monthly payment possible, or how to apply for a temporary repayment pause through deferment or forbearance. If you’ve already done all this and your student debt is still stressing you out, you may want to look into filing bankruptcy to discharge your student loans. 

You must meet eligibility requirements to qualify, but discharging your student loan debt through bankruptcy is a safe, reliable way to get your finances back on track. Want to see if you’re eligible? Take our free, five-minute student loan screener now. See if you can join the thousands of people Upsolve has helped receive a much-deserved financial fresh start.



Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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