Borrower Grace Periods
After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This "grace period" will be six months for a Federal Student Loan (Direct Loan Program).
PLUS Borrowers — The repayment period for all PLUS Loans begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days of the final disbursement. However, a graduate student PLUS Loan borrower (as well as a parent PLUS borrower who is also a student) can defer repayment while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time, and, for PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, for an additional six months after the borrower is no longer enrolled at least half-time. You must contact your loan servicer(s) in order for your loans to be deferred as this will not occur automatically. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower during the deferment.
Parent PLUS Loan borrowers whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, may choose to have repayment deferred while the student for whom the parent borrowed is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after that student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the parent during the deferment.
Lender Notification to Borrower
Your loan servicer will provide information about repayment and will notify you of the date loan repayment begins. It is very important that you make your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you'll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. If you don't, you could end up in default, which has serious consequences (see Default for details).
Get Your Loan Information
You have two options when monitoring your loan information. Federal Student Aid launched a new feature on its website, studentaid.gov, which allows financial aid recipients to log in to access their federal student aid history from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) in an updated, easy to read, format. To access NSLDS directly, go to nslds.ed.gov, and you can review this source that also provides information on your federal loans including loan types, disbursed amounts, outstanding principal and interest, and the total amount of all your loans.
If you're not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look it up on studentloans.gov or nslds.ed.gov or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY 1-800-730-8913). To see a list of Federal Student Aid servicers for the Direct Loan Program and for FFEL Program Loans purchased by the U.S. Department of Education, go to the Loan Servicer page.
You have a choice of several repayment plans that are designed to meet the different needs of individual borrowers. The amount you pay and the length of time to repay your loans will vary depending on the repayment plan you choose. If you do not choose a plan you will automatically be enrolled in the standard repayment plan. Go to Repayment Plans and Calculators for more information about the various repayment plans and to calculate your estimated repayment amount under each of the different plans.
The government offers flexible repayment options, even if you have limited income. Watch the following video sponsored by Nelnet, a federal loan servicer, to learn more about some of these options specifically, Income Based, Pay As You Go, and Income Contingent Plans.
If you have specific questions about repaying your Federal Direct Loan(s), contact your loan servicer. If you don't know who your loan servicer is, go to either studentaid.gov or nslds.ed.gov to find out.
Interest Rate Information:
To access information on your federal loans interest rates, go to either studentaid.gov or nslds.ed.gov.
For additional details on Direct Loan and FFEL interest rates effective July 1, 2010, click here.
Why does the amount of interest I pay vary from month to month?
Interest accrues on a daily basis on your loans. Factors such as the number of days between your last payment, the interest rate, and the amount of your loan balance determine the amount of interest that accrues each month. You can calculate the monthly interest on your loan by using the Simple Daily Interest Formula.
In some cases, you might be able to reduce your interest rate if you sign up for electronic debiting. To learn more, go to the Electronic Payment page on this website.
Trouble Making Payments
If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Your servicer will work with you to determine the best option for you.