Estimate how much you will owe – Forbes Advisor

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The typical monthly student loan payment among borrowers who were actively repaying their loans in 2019 was between $200 and $299, according to the Federal Reserve. But your monthly bill may be much lower or higher than that. Your required payment depends on the amount you originally borrowed, your interest rate, and the repayment plan you chose.

It’s possible to change your payment amount if you want to save money or pay off your loans faster, and there are plenty of ways to estimate how much you’ll pay when you first borrow. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the average student loan payment?

Federal student loan payments have been suspended since March 2020 due to the pandemic, so many borrowers are getting a reprieve from monthly payments. However, that break is set to expire later this year. To get an idea of ​​what the average student loan payment will be, we can look at pre-pandemic data.

Each year, the Federal Reserve releases its “Report of American Household Economic Well-Being,” a survey of thousands of adults and their current economic security. According to the 2019 survey, student borrowers who repaid loans made a “typical” monthly payment of $200 to $299.

The 2016 survey, released in 2017, provided a more specific data point: it found that the average monthly student loan bill among those actively making payments was $393, and the median monthly payment was $222. $.

How your payment plan affects what you owe

Let’s see how your monthly payment may change depending on the type of repayment plan you choose.

In this example, a borrower graduates from a private, nonprofit four-year college in Florida with $60,000 in unsubsidized federal student loans. They got a job in marketing with an annual salary of $45,000. Their average interest rate on student loans is 4.2%.

(Note that $60,000 is higher than the average student loan balance among graduates. But this will allow us to see how income-contingent repayment (IDR) plans can make payments more affordable for high-balance borrowers.)

The examples above apply specifically to federal student loans, which offer a range of repayment options that can help you pay your monthly bill more easily. If you have private loans, your lender will offer you different repayment plans, but the general patterns should be the same. The longer you are in repayment, the lower your monthly payment will be. However, you will pay more interest over the term of your loan if you extend the repayment.

How to estimate your monthly student loan costs

The best way to estimate your monthly loan payment is to use a student loan calculator. You will enter the total loan amount; interest rate (or an average of all your rates if you have multiple loans); how long you will pay; and any additional amount you can contribute each month beyond the minimum. This will give you a general idea of ​​your monthly and total payment over time.

You can get a more accurate view of your federal loans using Federal Student Aid’s loan simulator. By logging in with your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID), which you likely created when filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can view your own federal loan information in time. real and explore different repayment options.

What if you can’t afford your monthly payments?

There are several ways to reduce student loan monthly payments if you need to. Here are some options.

1. Change repayment plan

If you have federal student loans, you will be placed on the standard plan when you leave school, unless you choose another plan. (You can switch to a new repayment plan at any time with the help of your student loan manager.) The standard repayment plan divides your balance into 120 equal payments, which means you’ll have no more debt in 10 years.

But for many borrowers, this can make payments expensive. Therefore, the government is proposing other options, including the progressive plan. With this option, payments slowly increase over time assuming your income will also increase as you progress in your career.

Income-based reimbursement plans including Income-Based Reimbursement (IBR), Income-Based Reimbursement (ICR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) link your payments monthly student loan payments directly to your income, limiting loan fees to 10% to 20% of what you earn.

2. Consolidate federal loans

When you consolidate federal loans, the government combines all of your existing loans into one new loan. This can make repayment easier, but it has the added benefit of extending your repayment term, which lowers your monthly payment.

You’ll pay more interest over the life of your loan, but you’ll have up to 30 years to pay off your debt. The consolidation is permanent and irreversible, and depending on your situation, you may lose access to certain borrower benefits. Make sure you fully understand all the pros and cons of this method before committing to it.

3. Consider postponement or abstention

If you’re having trouble affording short-term borrowing – while recovering from an injury, for example, or during a work hiatus of a few months – you can ask your manager for a deferral or forbearance. of loans. You will not be required to make any payments during this period. The main difference between the two is that subsidized federal loans do not accrue interest during periods of deferment, while all loans accrue interest in forbearances.

Private loans generally designate a pause in payments as a forbearance rather than a postponement, and in almost all cases interest will accrue.

4. Examine the refinance

Similar to consolidation, student loan refinancing turns multiple loans into one, but with a different goal: to lower interest rates. When you refinance, a lender assesses your credit score, income, and other financial information, and ideally, you’ll qualify for a lower rate than you originally received on the loans.

You can refinance federal loans, private loans, or both types together, but if you refinance federal loans, you will lose access to benefits, including income-based repayment and rebate programs.

Refinancing at a lower interest rate usually means you’ll pay less over time, but it may not lead to a significantly lower monthly payment. In fact, if you want to take advantage of your interest savings, consider paying off your loans as soon as possible, or even increasing your monthly payment to do so.

5. Find repayment assistance

In addition to lowering your payments, there are other ways to get help paying off your loans. Some companies offer reimbursement assistance to employees. Grant programs like the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program help graduates who work in certain in-demand jobs pay off their college debt.

Many states and schools also offer student loan repayments based on your job and income level. For example, lawyers working in public sector jobs may qualify for their law school’s Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs).

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