6 Ways to Prepare for Student Loan Payments

Loan Repayment3 minutes

Learn ways to prepare for your upcoming student loan payments, whether you’re starting payments for the first time or coming back to repayment after a temporary payment pause.


Get info about your payment.

Make sure your contact information is up to date in your profile on your loan servicer’s website and in your StudentAid.gov profile. Wrong contact information could make you miss important updates about upcoming payments.

Before your payment is due, your loan servicer(s) will send you a billing statement or other notice. This notice will include your

  • payment due date,
  • upcoming interest, and
  • payment amount.

Your payment will be due no sooner than 21 days after your servicer sends the billing statement.

Once your bill has been sent, you can log in to your loan servicer’s website to see your monthly payment info. Not sure who your servicer is? Log in to your Dashboard.

If you can’t log in, call us at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) for loan servicer info.

Loan Servicer Contact
Edfinancial edfinancial.StudentAid.gov
MOHELA mohela.StudentAid.gov
Aidvantage aidvantage.StudentAid.gov
Nelnet nelnet.StudentAid.gov
ECSI efpls.ed.gov
Default Resolution Group myeddebt.ed.gov
CRI cri.StudentAid.gov


Explore affordable repayment plans.

We offer a variety of repayment plans, including income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. An IDR plan calculates your payment based on how much money you make and your family size. Under an IDR plan, payments may be as low as $0 per month. Be sure to check out our newest IDR plan, the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan.

Use Loan Simulator to explore your repayment options. When you pick a plan, consider factors like monthly payment amount and how much you’ll end up paying overall. Find info and tips on how to use Loan Simulator.


Take action if you want to lower your monthly payment.

After understanding all your repayment options, you may choose to apply for an IDR plan. In the IDR application, you can choose a specific plan or ask to be placed on the plan that results in the lowest monthly payment amount.

Are you already on an IDR plan, but your income changed recently? You can update (recertify) your info to see if you can get a new, lower payment amount. Recertify by following these steps.

Consolidating your federal student loans may also lower your monthly payments. However, you should consider the pros and cons of consolidation to decide if consolidation is right for you.

Consolidating several loans into one Direct Consolidation Loan results in a single, weighted average fixed interest rate and could result in a lower monthly payment.
Consolidation combines your loans and may result in a lower monthly payment.


Enroll (or reenroll) in auto pay.

Auto pay is optional, but you’ll save 0.25% on your interest rate if you choose auto pay. On auto pay, you’ll get a reminder ahead of each withdrawal. Sign up for auto pay (for free!) on your servicer’s website.


As a last resort, contact your loan servicer to ask for short-term relief.

If you’ve applied for an IDR plan but you still can’t afford your payment, you can request to temporarily pause or lower your payments through short-term relief (deferment or forbearance). Before you make a request, use Loan Simulator to learn how this short-term relief affects your loans and loan payments. Then contact your loan servicer to request a deferment or forbearance.

Remember, a normal deferment or forbearance is different from the previous COVID-19 emergency payment pause with 0% interest. Interest can still accrue (add up) during deferment or forbearance. Deferment and forbearance can also affect loan forgiveness options, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or IDR plan forgiveness.

We’ve also created a temporary on-ramp period through Sept. 30, 2024, to help borrowers who can’t afford their monthly payments. Learn more about the on-ramp period.


Understand what happens if you don’t repay your loan.

Normally, your loan becomes delinquent if you miss a payment. If your loan is delinquent for 90 days or more, your loan servicer will report the delinquency to the three major national credit bureaus. Delinquency will affect your credit score, making it harder to get credit.

After 270 days, your delinquent loan goes into default. When you default on a loan, here’s what happens:

  • You can lose your access to more student aid.
  • The default status will damage your credit score.
  • To pay off your defaulted loan, the government can take
    • your tax refund,
    • part of your Social Security benefits, or
    • up to 15% of your paycheck

To help borrowers successfully return to repayment, we created a temporary on-ramp period through Sept. 30, 2024. During the on-ramp period, you will not be considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies. Learn more about the on-ramp period.

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