Should I Use the Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan?

By Kylie Ora Lobell · November 24, 2021 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Should I Use the Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan?

Whether you’re considering taking out a federal student loan to pay for school, you’re in college and in debt, or you’ve just graduated, you may go with the default repayment plan of 10 years.

That isn’t the only option, however.

By learning more about the Standard Repayment Plan, you can decide if it’s the right choice for you or you want to go a different route.

What Is the Standard Repayment Plan for Student Loans?

Upon graduation from college or dropping below half-time enrollment, you’ll have a six-month grace period for a Direct Loan program loan (nine months for a federal Perkins Loan) when you don’t have to make payments.

Once that ends, you’ll begin the Standard Repayment Plan, the default for all federal student loan borrowers once they have left school unless you choose a different plan, perhaps one where you make lower monthly payments, extend your repayment period, or both.

The standard plan sets your monthly payments at a certain amount so that you will have your loans paid off within 10 years.

Recommended: Getting to Know Your Student Loan Repayment Options

Standard Repayment Plan Eligibility

As you explore student loan repayment plans, you can make sure you are eligible for the standard plan if it sounds fine.

Loans That Are Eligible

Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans and Direct Loans qualify for the Standard Repayment Plan. They include:

•   Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

•   Direct PLUS Loans

•   Direct Consolidation Loans

•   FFEL consolidation loans

•   FFEL PLUS loans

Keep in mind that you will only be able to use the Standard Repayment Plan if you have federal student loans, not private student loans.

Recommended: Direct vs. Indirect Student Loans: What’s the Difference?

How Does the Standard Repayment Plan Work?

The Standard Repayment Plan features fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Because the plan offers a relatively short repayment period and monthly payments don’t change, it will save you more money in interest than longer repayment plans at the same rate.

If you just graduated with the average student loan debt of $39,400 at 5% interest, you’ll pay $10,748 in total interest. Expanding to 25 years at the same rate will lower your monthly payment, but you’ll end up paying nearly $29,700 in total interest.

There’s a variation on the 10-year theme: the graduated repayment plan, which keeps repayment costs low for recent graduates who may have lower starting salaries but who expect to see their pay increase substantially over 10 years.

Recommended: Student Loan Payment Calculator

Payments on the Standard Plan

What may make the Standard Repayment Plan less appealing to some borrowers is that payments will likely be higher than on any other federal repayment plan, thanks to the short term.

For people with a large amount of student debt or high-interest rates, the monthly payments can be daunting or unmanageable. You might face sticker shock when you receive your first bill after your grace period, so don’t let it come as a surprise.

To determine if the Standard Repayment Plan is a good option for you, you could use the federal Loan Simulator to calculate student loan payments. Or contact your loan servicer before your first payment is due to see what you will owe each month.

Changing Your Repayment Schedule

If you want to change your repayment schedule or plan, call your loan servicer and see what they can do.

You’ll need to contact each loan servicer if you took out more than one loan and want to change repayment schedules.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Standard Repayment Plan?

There are upsides and downsides to weigh when considering the Standard Repayment Plan.


You will pay off your loans in less time than you would with other types of federal repayment plans, which would allow you to set aside money for things like purchasing a home.

You’ll save money on interest, since you’re paying your loan back faster than you would on other federal plans.

The plan offers predictability. Payments are the same amount every month.


Your monthly payments will probably be higher than payments made under other student loan repayment plans with extended repayment periods.

And monthly payments are going to be based on the number of years you’ll take to repay the loan, not on how much you can afford, as with income-based repayment plans.

The Takeaway

The federal Standard Repayment Plan of 10 years could be right for you if you’re able to keep up with payments and you want to pay off your debt quickly.

An option is to refinance your student loans to improve your interest rate and possibly change your loan term. Just realize that refinancing federal student loans into a private student loan means giving up federal benefits like income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness.

SoFi offers enticing interest rates on refinancing and charges no application or origination fees. Look for special offers.

It’s easy to check your rate on a SoFi refi.

Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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