Student loans have become one of the primary ways students and their families pay for college. Nearly two-thirds of graduates from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2018 left school with student loan debt, according to the most recent data from The Institute for College Access & Success.
But while student loans can help make college affordable, the amount you borrow now will affect your budget for years after you graduate or leave school. Before you sign a loan agreement, understand not only the total you expect to borrow throughout college, but how much you’ll owe per month in the future.
Enter your student loan amount, interest rate and loan term in months and years into the calculator below. You’ll then see your expected monthly payment and full payment schedule over time. Remember to keep track of all of your student loans to get a full picture of the amount owed. This may mean calculating several times.
Student Loan FAQs
What types of student loans are there?
The two types of student loans available are federal loans, provided by the federal government, and private student loans, made by financial institutions like banks and credit unions. Federal student loans typically come with lower interest rates and more consumer protections than private loans. So it’s best to borrow those up to the maximum allowed, if necessary, before considering private loans.
How do I apply for student loans?
To get federal student loans, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. It’s available Oct. 1 each year for the following school year. Depending on your financial need, the FAFSA could qualify you not only for student loans, but for federal grants and work-study, plus some types of state and college financial aid. To get private loans, submit an application directly to the lender. Private loans require a credit check, while most federal loans don’t.
How much should I borrow in student loans?
Borrow as little as possible while still ensuring you’ll have enough funding to finish your studies as planned. Some experts suggest borrowing no more than you expect to earn your first year working full-time after college. So if the average starting salary in your field is $40,000, plan to take out no more than $40,000 in student loans total throughout your college education.
What will my repayment schedule be?
Your repayment term, or the amount of time it takes to pay off student loans, depends on the type of loan you took out and the payoff plan you choose. Federal student loans come with a standard repayment term of 10 years, but you can opt for a 20- or 25-year term if you choose an income-driven repayment plan, which ties monthly payments to your income. Private loans often come with terms of five, 10 or 15 years.
Can I get my loans forgiven?
In some circumstances, your student loans may be discharged before your repayment term ends. For example, for federal loan borrowers, if you make 120 on-time loan payments while working full-time for the government or a qualifying nonprofit, you could get your loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan ForgivenessProgram.