While you're in repayment
Generally, you'll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan (there are several) you choose.
Your loan servicer will notify you of the date your first payment is due. If you do not choose a repayment plan, you will be placed on the standard repayment plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the standard repayment plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period.
You can change repayment plans at any time by contacting your loan servicer.
Automated payments (electronic debit)
When you receive your first bill, you'll learn how you can sign up for the electronic debit account (EDA) option and have your bank automatically make your monthly loan payments for you from your checking or savings account. You won't have to write checks, use stamps, or worry if your payment will arrive by the due date. In addition you'll receive a 0.25% reduction in the interest rate on your loans during any period when your payments are made through EDA.
If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Their staff will work with you to determine the best option for you. Options include:
- Changing repayment plans.
- Deferment, if you meet certain requirements. A deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan.
- Forbearance, if you don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make your loan payments. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. Read more about deferments and forbearance.
If you stop making payments and don't get a deferment or forbearance, your loan could go into default, which has serious consequences—see below.
Your loan first becomes "delinquent" if your monthly payment is not received by the due date. If you fail to make a payment, you'll receive a reminder that your payment is late. If your account remains delinquent, you'll receive warning notices reminding you of the consequences of default and of your obligation to repay your loans.
If you are delinquent on your loan payments, contact your loan servicer immediately to find out how to bring your account current. Late fees may be added, and your delinquency will be reported to one or more national consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus), but this is much better than remaining delinquent on your payments and going into default.
If you default:
- We will require you to immediately repay the entire unpaid amount of your loan.
- We may sue you, take all or part of your federal and state tax refunds and other federal or state payments, and/or garnish your wages so that your employer is required to send us part of your salary to pay off your loan.
- We will require you to pay reasonable collection fees and costs, plus court costs and attorney fees.
- You may be denied a professional license.
- You will lose eligibility for other federal student aid and assistance under most federal benefit programs.
- You will lose eligibility for loan deferments.
- We will report your default to national consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus).
For more information and to learn what actions to take if you default on your loans, see the Department's Debt Resolution website.
Under certain conditions, you can have all or part of your loan cancelled or discharged. Read more about loan cancellation.
Stay in touch with your loan servicer—let them know if you've changed your name or permanent address, and make sure that they know when you've completed your educational program or transferred to another school.