Navigate student debt—
right this way.

If you’re having trouble understanding your student
loans, you’re not alone. Over 43 million Americans1 are
feeling this, so we created a complete guide to
decoding your debt.

Get to know your repayment options so you can get on
the path to becoming free from student debt.*

Explore the guide

*NOTICE: If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. 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 or extended repayment plans.

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.

Student loan lingo you need to know.

Loans have a language all their own. As you look to navigate your way out of student debt, understanding these terms can help.

  • APR versus interest rate:

    APR versus interest rate

    APR versus interest rate

    • What’s the difference?
    APR, which stands for annual percentage rate, is the interest rate plus any fees your lender may add to the principal loan amount. The interest rate alone is what you’re being charged to borrow money from your lender, expressed as a percentage of the principal loan amount.

    • Which fees are typically included in an APR?
    The most common fee included in an APR is the student loan origination fee. This fee is typically based on a percentage of the total loan amount and gets deducted from the funds you receive before the loan is disbursed. Some lenders—like SoFi—don’t charge any fees.

    • How do interest rates work?
    The interest rate represents the amount your lender is charging you to borrow money. It’s expressed as a percentage of your loan amount (or principal) and doesn’t reflect any fees or other charges that might be connected to your loan.

  • Fixed versus variable rate:

    Fixed versus variable rate

    Fixed versus variable rate

    • What’s the difference?
    True to its name, a fixed interest rate does not change—it remains the same throughout the life of a loan, whereas a variable rate fluctuates with changes in the market.

    • When might a fixed rate make sense?
    If you like the security of knowing exactly what your monthly payment will be over the life of your loan, a fixed-rate loan is a good option. This consistency makes budgeting easier and offers peace of mind in times of economic uncertainty.

    • When might a variable rate make sense?
    A variable-rate loan can benefit borrowers in a declining interest-rate market because their monthly payment will decrease as well. However, when interest rates rise, borrowers who hold a variable-rate loan will find that their monthly payment also increases.

  • Federal versus private loan:

    Federal versus private loan

    Federal versus private loan

    • What’s the difference?
    Federal student loans are funded by the government—they can be subsidized or unsubsidized. Private student loans are not associated with the government, so their repayment terms vary from lender to lender. Unlike federal loans, interest rates can be either fixed or variable.

    • How do I know whether my loan is federal or private?
    To figure out whether your student loan is federal or private, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). The database is a collection of information on student loans that aggregates data from universities, federal loan programs, and more.

    • What are the benefits of a federal student loan?
    Federal student loans include benefits not typically offered by private lenders, including income-based repayment, public service loan forgiveness, and deferment options.

    • What are the benefits of a private student loan?
    The benefits of a private student loan include higher loan amounts, your choice of fixed or variable interest rates, and a quick application process, among others.

The state of student loan forgiveness.

Debt forgiveness policies are shifting quickly and often. These are the most important things to know right now.
Plus, a primer on relief programs, Supreme Court rulings, and avoiding scams.

Tips for student loan repayment.

Here are some strategies to consider as you explore ways to repay your student loans.

Pay down the principal.

One of the most effective ways to get ahead of student debt is to pay more than the monthly minimum. You’d be surprised how much an extra $50 could do. When you put extra money toward the principal loan balance every month, you’re also decreasing the total interest you’d otherwise pay over the life of the loan.

Learn more

Apply for a federal repayment program.

Federal student loans offer a variety of income-based repayment plans, including the Biden administration’s new SAVE Plan. Plus, you may be eligible to have your federal loans forgiven after 10 years if you work in public service full-time under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

Learn more

Refinance your student loans.

When you refinance through a private lender, you could get a lower interest rate or monthly payment and consolidate multiple student loans into a single payment. Just note: When you refinance federal loans, you’ll lose access to certain benefits and protections, like income-based repayment plans and deferment.

Learn more

The TL;DR on student debt.

We get it. You want to think about your loans as little as possible. Here’s a quick, hot take on student loan repayment. Give us two minutes to break it down.

What Is Student Loan Refinancing?

How To Budget for Student Loan Payments

Tune in and turn on our webinars.

Watch our team as they cover the ins and outs of student loan repayment. We recommend buttered popcorn for your viewing pleasure.

  • Everything You Need to Know About Repaying Your Student Loans.

    Watch now

  • Student Loan Payments Are Back—Here’s How to Make It Easier.

    Watch now

  • Everything You Need to Know About Repaying Your Medical and Dental School Loans.

    Watch now

Run the numbers on your student loans.

Calculate your monthly payment with a new interest rate, see your payoff date, and determine whether refinancing could save you money.

  • Monthly payment calculator

    Punch in your loan amount and a new interest rate, and we’ll estimate your monthly payment.


  • Payoff date calculator

    Enter a few details about your loan and we’ll provide your payoff month and year.


  • Refinance savings calculator

    Provide us with a few details and see how much you could save by refinancing.


Using the free calculators is for informational purposes only, does not constitute an offer to receive a loan, and will not solicit a loan offer. Any payments shown depend on the accuracy of the information provided.

Free tools to set you up for life beyond debt.

  • Student Loan Tracking

    Our free credit score monitoring tool allows you to track your student debt for a quick overview of your monthly payments, loan status, and payoff date—at no extra cost.

    Our free credit score monitoring tool allows you to track your student debt for a quick overview of your monthly payments, loan status, and payoff date—at no extra cost.

    Get started →

  • Budgeting Tools

    Whether your goal is to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible, increase your savings, or invest for the future, our budgeting tools may help—and they’re free.

    Whether your goal is to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible, increase your savings, or invest for the future, our budgeting tools may help—and they’re free.

    Explore tools →

Still have questions? Get help from a human.

  • Live customer support

    Need help applying for SoFi Student Loan Refinancing? Our live support team could help you understand the complexities of student loans and suggest refinancing options based on your individual needs.

    Call now

  • SoFi Financial Planning

    Sign up for our free credit score monitoring tool and start tracking your student loan. As a SoFi member, you could tap into the power of a financial planner and get help with your student loan repayment plan.

    Schedule a call

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender