The Versatile Student Loan Calculator: Loan Simulator

Loan RepaymentTips for Success4 minutes

Many students and their families must obtain federal student loans to pay forhigher education. But how much should you borrow and which repayment plan is best for you? Use the student loan calculator from the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid called Loan Simulator to find out.

Loan Simulator can help current loan borrowers estimate payments and simulate certain scenarios.

Planning Ahead for Repayment

Let’s say you’ve completed your first year of college and have some loans under your belt. You want to visualize how your potential loan debt relates to repayment after you graduate or leave school. Using Loan Simulator, you can get an idea of your typical loan balance based on national data by school type:

Screenshot from Loan Simulator to show how you can pull in national loan data for repayment estimates.

Or based on a specific school:

Screenshot from Loan Simulator to show how you can pull loan data from a school for repayment estimate.

With this information, you can see what repayment could look like.

Screenshot from Loan Simulator to show how your best repayment option is determined.

To get even more options (for example income-driven repayment options), you can use our built-in College Scorecard salary estimator.

Screenshot from Loan Simulator to show how to estimate your income for student loan repayment estimate.


Nearing Repayment or in Repayment

What if you’re finished with school and in the thick of repayment? When you log in, Loan Simulator uses your loan information to recommend repayment strategies that work best for your income and repayment goal.

Confirm your current loan situation in Loan Simulator.

Loan Simulator uses the options you select and information you enter to recommend a repayment plan that meets your needs. It can also calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is used to calculate monthly payments under some repayment plans. Without an AGI, you might be missing out on some repayment options.

creenshot of tiles with scenarios that may affect your repayment strategy

You can skip guided questions and use the sidebar to enter information quickly and experiment with changing your repayment goals and other options.

Screenshot of how your Adjusted Gross Income is used to calculate your repayment strategy in Loan Simulator

Note: It’s important to include your AGI to be considered for income-driven repayment plans. These plans are based on a borrower’s income and family size and may result in payments as low as $0. They are also good options for those seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Personalized results also allow you to compare multiple repayment plans to see which best fits your needs. You can select up to three repayment plans:

Screenshot of the repayment options and data that is available in Loan Simulator

To compare them side by side:

Screenshot of a sample plan comparison screen in Loan Simulator

Loan Simulator also offers “Other Options to Consider” to help you further explore different repayment goals.

Screen shown in Loan Simulator that gives users alternate options to simulate

You can use the slider bar on the “Want to Pay Off Your Loans Faster?” option to see how an extra amount per month or an extra one-time payment can reduce the total amount paid and bring the payoff date closer.

Screen in Loan Simulator that shows your total student loan amount paid based on the monthly payment you simulate

Considering or Already Tracking for PSLF

Do you work in the public sector? Loan Simulator asks whether you are considering PSLF:

Loan Simulator screen that asks the user if they are interested in Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Then uses this information to select the repayment plan that meets your goal and qualifies for PSLF. It also shows the potential loan amount to be forgiven.

Loan Simulator screen that shows the total forgiveness amount if you simulate using PSLF

Struggling With Payments

When you are struggling to make payments, Loan Simulator can help you by estimating payments under an income-driven repayment plan and suggest which deferment and forbearance options you might choose to temporarily stop payments on your student loans.

Screen in Loan Simulator that allows users to simulate and apply for unemployment deferment

Loan Simulator also shows you the impact of deferment or forbearance on your overall loan balance.

Loan Simulator screen that allows users to simulate the impact of deferring student loans

Check out this Loan Simulator video!