The Standard Student Loan Repayment Plan is a 10 year repayment plan that fixes your payments at a monthly rate (never less than $50) for you to pay off your loans within 10 years. I call this the “mortgage” repayment plan. It’s just like making payments on a house. You make a fixed payment over time, and eventually you pay off the balance of your loan.

Figuring out how to navigate your student loan debt is like trying to figure out what to eat for lunch when you’re already hangry. (anger induced by hunger).

There are so many different options, that it leaves you (or at least, me) feeling like sticking my head under a rug and sobbing. (I get dramatic when I’m hungry). And to make matters worse, each student loan option is needlessly complicated. Its like trying to order a basic meal (a #1– a plain hamburger with fries and a Diet Coke) and then having your waiter assault you with sundry of questions. Well do you want special sauce with that? Do you want onions? What about grilled onions? Lettuce? Tomato? What about trying something crazy on it, like pineapple? Jalapeno? And before you know it, you’ve collapsed on the ground, too hungry to make any decisions. In each of the federal student loan forgiveness options, you have to follow the rules with precision in order to have your loans forgiven. So, first, you have to know what those rules are before you can make a decision. But the rules can be hard to understand. And your hungry. And understanding things when your hungry is hard. So, in our student loans simplified series, we are breaking down each of the federal student loan repayment options in bite sized pieces to help you understand and make the best decision for you.

Who’s hungry?

the standard student loan repayment plan


Here is everything that you need to know about the Standard Repayment Plan to determine if its right for you.

The Standard Repayment Plan is the default option for your student loans. 

That means that if you don’t select another plan, when your loans are due, your loan servicer will automatically place you under the Standard Repayment Plan. You will want to explore and understand your options when it comes to student loan repayment, so be sure to check out the other repayment plans at the bottom of this post.

The following loans qualify for the Standard Repayment Plan: 

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • FFEL PLUS Loans (Note that no new loans have been made under the FFEL Program since July 1, 2010, so if you didn’t take out loans before 2010 this won’t apply to you.)
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans

Under the Standard Repayment Plan, consolidation loans can be paid off over 30 years instead of the standard 10 years. 

Unlike other student loans that will be paid off within 10 years on the Standard Repayment Plan, consolidation loans can be paid off over 30 years. But keep in mind, the longer you take to pay off your student loan debt, the more interest accrues and the more expensive your student loans become.

The Standard Student Loan Repayment Plan is the fastest and cheapest federal repayment plan option. 

The Standard Repayment Plan is by far the fastest and cheapest repayment option. BUT if you want to make your student loans EVEN CHEAPER, you can refinance with a private lender for a better interest rate. Keep in mind that if you do refinance your student loans, you lose some protections such as falling back on one of the student loan forgiveness plans if you have hard times. But, many of the private lenders offer some protections, such as deferment in the event that you lose your job or otherwise come across hard times.

You don’t have to stick to the Standard Repayment Plan forever. 

One of the scariest things to me about choosing a student loan repayment plan, was feeling like I was going to be stuck in that repayment plan forever. #commitmentissues. It felt like saying yes to a romantic relationship that I only felt luke warm about. But just like you don’t have to marry that guy you’re dating but not that into, you don’t have to marry your student loan repayment plan– you can always change your mind later if it is not working for you. You might decide after a year on the Standard Repayment Plan that you are comfortable refinancing to a 5 or 10 year private loan to enjoy a lower interest rate (and probably a lower monthly payment). Or you might be struggling to make payments and choose to sign up for an income-driven repayment plan. Don’t be afraid to change your mind if something else makes better sense/cents for you.

You can use this repayment estimator from the U.S. Department of Education to see which repayment plans you are eligible for and how much they will cost you.

Who should use Income Sensitive Repayment: Borrowers who are want to save money on their student loans and who feel comfortable that they can make their minimum payments on this 10 year plan each month.

Overall, the Standard Repayment Plan is a solid repayment plan for people who can afford their monthly payments and want to minimize paying more interest on their loans.

Are you signed up for the Standard Repayment Plan? What do you like or dislike about it?

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