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Use this student loan interest calculator to help you estimate your monthly payments and the total amount you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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How to calculate student loan interest
Here’s how to use the calculator above to figure out your student loan interest:
- Enter the total amount owed
- Enter your interest rate
- Enter the loan term in months (120 is standard)
Once you enter your information, you’ll be able to see what your estimated monthly payment will be, the total you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan, and the total you’ll pay back (including that interest).
For example, let’s say you borrowed $15,000 at a rate of 5% over the standard 10-year repayment plan. This is what your results would look like:
- Total payment: $19,091
- Total interest: $4,092
- Monthly payment: $159
Additional features to consider when calculating interest
Here are a few other factors that could also affect how much you pay in interest:
- Credit score: Most federal student loans don’t require a credit check. But if you apply for a private student loan, the lender will review your credit to determine your creditworthiness as well as your interest rate. You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for the most optimal interest rates. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. In general, the higher your credit score, the better your rate will be — and the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan.
- Interest rate type: All federal student loans come with fixed interest rates while private loans could have fixed or variable rates. With a fixed rate, your payments will stay the same throughout the life of the loan. A variable rate, on the other hand, can fluctuate over time depending on market conditions, so your payments could rise or fall. This means you might end up paying more or less in interest according to your loan’s rate type.
- Repayment term: Federal student loan terms can range from 10 to 30 years (depending on your repayment plan) while private loan terms typically range from five to 20 years (depending on the lender). Choosing a longer term could help you get a low monthly payment — however, it also means you’ll pay more in interest over time. It’s usually best to pick the shortest term you can afford to keep your interest costs as low as possible.
Frequently asked questions: Student loans and interest rates
- Why is it important to know the interest rate and terms on my student loans?
- When does interest accrue on my student loans?
- When do I have to start paying off my student loan?
- How long will it take to pay off my student loans?
- How can I save money on my student loans?
- What if I can’t afford my student loan payments?
- How can I limit the amount of money I need to borrow for college?
- How can I get a lower student loan interest rate when taking out the loan?
- What’s the difference between federal and private student loans?
- How do I decide how much to borrow?
Why is it important to know the interest rate and terms on my student loans?
It’s important to know your interest rate and terms on the student loans you borrow, so you can understand how much you’ll owe. If you take out $15,000 in student loans, you’re not just going to owe $15,000. You’re going to owe $15,000 plus interest over the life of your loan (how many years your term consists of).
Like the example above, if you borrowed $15,000 at a rate of 5% over the standard 10-year repayment plan, you would end up paying back $19,091 total.
Check Out: Today’s Student Loan Interest Rates
When does interest accrue on my student loans?
The interest on your student loans begins to accrue at different times, depending on the type of loans you have:
- If you have subsidized loans: The federal government pays the interest for you while you’re in school. But once you graduate and your grace period is over, you’re on the hook for the interest.
- If you have unsubsidized loans: Interest begins to accrue immediately when the loan is disbursed. Although you won’t have to pay while you’re in school, the interest is still your responsibility, so it’s a good idea to at least pay the interest to get ahead of your debt if you can.
- If you have PLUS loans: These are unsubsidized loans, so the interest begins to accrue as soon as the loan is disbursed.
- If you have private student loans: The interest also begins to accrue as soon as the loan is sent to your school.
When do I have to start paying off my student loan?
With most lenders, you can usually begin making payments as soon as you want to. You can even pay your loan off completely without penalty. But the good news is, you typically don’t need to make monthly payments while in school. You usually have until 6 months after you graduate — though there are a couple of lenders that don’t give you this grace period.
If you’re going to grad school, you’re usually able to defer your undergraduate loans, as well. Just keep in mind that interest will still accrue, so making payments — even if interest-only — is still a good idea if you can.
Most private lenders offer flexible repayment options, too, that include interest-only repayment options, deferral options, and more. Just make sure you ask your lender about the different loan repayment plans before you take out the loan.
How long will it take to pay off my student loans?
How long it’ll take you to pay off your student loans depends on your repayment plan, income, and other factors.
A standard 10-year repayment plan is 120 months, assuming you can make regular minimum monthly payments. But if you can pay more than the minimum monthly payment, or make extra payments, you could significantly cut that down. Most lenders won’t penalize you for paying off your student loan early either if you do pay more than the minimum each month.
On the other hand, if you’re having trouble keeping up with your monthly payments, you could opt for an income-driven repayment plan. IDR plans are an option if you have federal student loans, but are not offered by most private student loan lenders.
Learn More: How Long Does It Take to Pay Off Student Loans?
How can I save money on my student loans?
There are many ways you can save money on your student loans, including:
- Making payments while in school
- Paying more than the minimum payment
- Taking advantage of interest rate deductions
- And more
Some lenders will give you interest rate discounts on your student loans if you set up autopay or have a checking or savings account with them. So make sure to ask about these discounts first to ensure you’re getting the best deal on your student loans.
See More Ways: 11 Strategies to Pay Off Student Loans Fast
What if I can’t afford my student loan payments?
If you’re struggling to afford your student loan payments, there are a few ways to lower your monthly payment:
- Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan
- Extend your loan repayment term
- Refinance your student loans
Keep in mind that if you pursue any of the above and are stretching your payments out over a longer period of time, this can cause you to pay more in interest over the life of the loan. So, make sure it makes sense for your current situation — and know how much you’ll pay — before making a decision.
If you miss a student loan payment, it isn’t the end of the world, but you need to get back on track as soon as possible to ensure you don’t get behind. If you still need help, you can consider pursuing deferment or forbearance with federal student loans:
- Student loan forbearance: This allows you to temporarily pause your student loan payments for a set period of time. Once that period is up, any interest that accrued will capitalize. This means that the interest is added to your balance and you have to pay it back. Forbearance should be your last resort.
- Student loan deferment: This will temporarily postpone your student loan payments. Unlike forbearance, interest won’t accrue on subsidized federal student loans or Perkins loans — but it will accrue on other types of loans. If you’re eligible, deferment is usually the better option.
How can I limit the amount of money I need to borrow for college?
Before taking out student loans, it’s a good idea to finance your education through other means. Here are some of your best options to limit the amount of money you need to borrow in student loans:
- Use a 529 plan. If your parents or other relatives have set up a 529 plan for you, you can use that money to help cover the costs of college.
- Apply for scholarships and grants. One of your best bets is to research and apply for gift aid, like scholarships and grants. Gift aid is a great resource because it’s money you don’t have to pay back.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Always fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for financial aid. To be eligible for federal student loans and work-study, for example, you must have completed the FAFSA.
How can I get a lower student loan interest rate when taking out the loan?
Federal student loan interest rates are set by Congress, so they can impose rates that are as high or low as lawmakers see fit. Rates on federal student loans for new borrowers are determined each May. But once you take out a federal student loan, your rate will be set for life (unless you change repayment plans or refinance).
Private student loan rates, on the other hand, vary by lender. If you want to get a lower interest rate on private student loans, you should make sure you have good credit or get a creditworthy cosigner.
If you’re still in search of the right student loan for your situation, you’ve come to the right place. Credible makes it easy for you to compare private student loans, so you can find the right fit. Just fill out a single form and you can see prequalified rates from all of our partner lenders below in just a few minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)|
|3.75% - 13.72% APR9||3.25% - 13.59% APR9|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
What’s the difference between federal and private student loans?
Both federal and private student loans can help you cover your education costs. Here’s the difference between the two:
- Federal student loans are provided by the U.S Department of Education and have fixed rates that are set by Congress each year. If you need to borrow for school, it’s usually best to start with federal loans as they come with access to federal benefits and protections — such as IDR plans and student loan forgiveness programs. Additionally, most federal loans don’t require a credit check, which can make them a helpful option if you have poor or no credit.
- Private student loans are offered by private lenders, including online lenders as well as traditional banks and credit unions. Fixed and variable rates on these loans are set by individual lenders according to market conditions. Unlike with federal loans, you’ll generally need good to excellent credit to qualify for a private loan. Keep in mind that private loans don’t come with federal protections. However, they do offer some benefits of their own — for example, you can apply at any time, and you might be able to borrow more than you’d get with a federal loan.
Learn More: Federal vs. Private Student Loans: 5 Differences
How do I decide how much to borrow?
Student loans can help cover almost any cost related to your education, including housing, textbooks, and more. To decide how much you need to borrow:
- Add up all your expected expenses (such as tuition, fees, and transportation).
- Subtract other financial aid you’ve received (such as scholarships and grants). This amount is how much you’ll likely need to borrow to cover your remaining costs.
Also consider how much you can expect to earn in the future to see what you can reasonably afford. Ultimately, while you might be able to borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance between federal and private loans, be sure to borrow only what you need to keep your repayment costs as low as possible.
Rates displayed include Automatic Payment and Loyalty Discounts, where applicable. Note that such discounts do not apply while loans are in deferment. The lenders on the Credible.com platform offer fixed rates ranging from 3.34% - 14.50% APR and Variable interest rates from 1.04% - 13.19% APR. Variable rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower's loan with changes in the LIBOR rate. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Your actual rate may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown above and will be based on factors such as the term of your loan, your financial history (including your cosigner's (if any) financial history) and the degree you are in the process of achieving or have achieved. While not always the case, lower rates typically require creditworthy applicants with creditworthy co-signers, graduate degrees, and shorter repayment terms (terms vary by lender and can range from 5-20 years) and include Automatic Payment and Loyalty discounts, where applicable. Loyalty and Automatic Payment discount requirements as well as Lender terms and conditions will vary by lender and therefore, reading each lender's disclosures is important. Additionally, lenders may have loan minimum and maximum requirements, degree requirements, educational institution requirements, citizenship and residency requirements as well as other lender-specific requirements.