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Know Your Repayment Options

If your monthly payment is too high, you have several options to reduce your monthly payment, sometimes even as low as $0 a month.

This page has information on the various types of student loan repayment plans. You can also visit Federal Student Aid (FSA)’s website for in-depth information on student loan repayment. For example, read about repayment plans, and then use the Loan Simulator to find the right repayment plan or other solution for your financial situation.

When You Can't Pay

Download the Full Guide to Repayment Plans

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Quick Repayment Plan Overview

Standard Repayment graph over 10 years. Graph line remains consistant with no changes over life of loan. See details below

This is the default plan you'll repay your loans on. On this plan, your loans will be repaid in the shortest amount of time when payments are made on schedule.

Graduated Repayment graph over 10 years. Graph line stair steps upward consistantly over life of loan. See details below

This plan is well-suited for those who expect their income to go up over time. Payments begin low, and increase every 24 payments.

Extended Repayment graph over 25 years. Graph line stair steps upward consistantly over life of loan. Must have $30,000 balance to qualify. See details below

Qualified borrowers receive a repayment term of up to 25 years, and the option for a fixed or graduated regular monthly payment amount.

Income-Sensitive Repayment graph over 10 years. Graph drops below standard payment amount during periods of job change and unemployment. See details below

This FFELP loan-only plan lowers payments for 12 months at a time, and has a loan term of five years before defaulting to Standard or Graduated repayment.

Income-Driven Repayment graph over 25 years. Graph line goes up as income increases and down when income decreases with forgiveness possible at end of term. See details below

The four income-driven repayment plans are designed to help make your student loan debt manageable by creating a regular monthly payment amount that fits your income.

Repayment Plans

Standard Repayment

The most common repayment plan is Standard Repayment. This plan spreads equal payments over your loan term. Generally, this is the most economical repayment plan.

The Standard Plan qualifies for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Keep in mind that your required 120 payments for PSLF should be made under an Income-Driven Repayment Plan. Any payments you make under the Standard Plan count toward your required 120 payments. However, it requires full repayment in 10 years, and you would have no loan balance left to forgive.

Graduated Repayment

With this plan, payments start low and gradually increase over the years. This can be a good choice for those who expect to earn more money as they advance in their careers. Payment amounts increase every 24 months until the loan balance is paid in full. You will pay more interest on this plan than on the Standard Repayment Plan.

Extended Repayment

Do you have more than $30,000 in outstanding FFELP or Direct Loans? Then the Extended Repayment Plan may be for you. This plan makes monthly payments more affordable, but it will take a longer amount of time to pay off the loan (up to 25 years), and you will pay more interest. Under the Extended Repayment Plan, you may choose standard payments (equal payments over the payment term) or graduated payments (payments that increase every two years).

Income-Sensitive Repayment

This plan can only be used for FFELP loans. This plan carries an annual adjustment to your minimum monthly payment based on your monthly gross income. You may choose this plan for up to five years, after which your account will defer to either the Standard or Graduated Repayment Plan.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you need a more affordable monthly payment amount tailored to your income, an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan could help. Borrowers need to submit their income and family size annually to maintain eligibility. Each of the four plans has unique qualifications for eligibility, and will affect your regular monthly payment amount in different ways. The Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan, and Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE, formerly the REPAYE Plan) Repayment Plan are for Direct Loans only. The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan is for both FFELP and Direct Loans.

When You Can't Pay


If you are experiencing financial hardship, are unemployed, decide to go back to school, or are on active duty military service, postponing payments with deferment may be right for you. Depending on your loan type, you may not accrue interest during this period. Log in to your account to review what deferment options are available for you.


If you work an internship, perform certain types of community service, or find yourself experiencing financial hardship, you may be qualified to postpone payments with forbearance. Forbearance also resolves any delinquency on the account. Log in to your account and choose Repayment Options & Resources from the menu to find out if you're eligible.

For Nelnet account numbers beginning with “E”: Interest will continue to accrue during a forbearance. Payments made when your account returns to a repayment status (when payments are due) will be applied to any unpaid interest that accrued before or during this forbearance and then to the outstanding principal balance.

For Nelnet account numbers beginning with “D” or “J”: Interest will continue to accrue during a forbearance, and any unpaid, accrued interest from before or during the forbearance will be added to the outstanding principal balance (known as capitalization) if it’s not paid before the end of the forbearance. For more information about interest capitalization, refer to our Interest Capitalization page.

Find Out if Consolidation is Right for You

You have multiple loans with multiple monthly payments and servicers

The Direct Consolidation Loan program is offered by the U.S. Department of Education to federal student loan borrowers. The Direct Consolidation Loan program allows multiple eligible loans to be consolidated into a single loan, which is then serviced by the servicer of your choosing (which includes Nelnet).

When You Can't Pay

Download the Full Guide to Repayment Plans

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