Student Loan Calculator

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ByChristopher Boston
Edited byBenjamar Gabawa
ByChristopher Boston
Edited byBenjamar Gabawa

Updated: November 6, 2023

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How to Use MoneyGeek’s Student Loan Calculator

Embarking on your educational journey is exciting, but it often comes with a hefty price tag in the form of student loans. These loans are a long-term financial commitment that you'll be navigating for years, even decades.

MoneyGeek’s student loan calculator can help you effectively map out your financial future by following these simple steps:


Input the loan amount

The loan amount usually varies based on the type of student loan. For federal student loans, the maximum amount can range from $5,500 to $12,500 per year for undergraduate students, depending on the year in school and dependency status. Private student loans, on the other hand, can offer higher limits, often up to the total cost of attendance (COA).


Adjust the interest rate

Enter the interest rate that corresponds to your selected loan type. Federal student loans come with fixed interest rates, which means the rate will remain constant throughout the life of the loan. Private student loans, however, offer both fixed and variable rates. Variable rates can fluctuate based on market conditions, affecting your monthly payments and total repayment amount.


Enter the loan term

Select the duration over which you'll repay the loan. Federal student loans typically have a standard repayment term of 10 years, although extended and income-driven repayment plans can lengthen this period. Private student loans offer a range of terms, often between five and 20 years. It's worth noting that shorter terms can lead to higher monthly payments but will save you money on interest in the long run.

After submitting all the required information, our student loan calculator will crunch the numbers to give you a detailed snapshot of your future financial obligations. Here’s a breakdown of what these numbers mean:

  • Monthly payment: This is the amount you'll need to pay each month to fulfill your loan obligations within the chosen term.

  • Total repayment amount: This figure represents the sum total of what you'll pay back over the life of the loan, including both the principal and interest. It's a wake-up call to the long-term impact of your loan, helping you grasp the full financial commitment you're making.

  • Interest paid: This number shows how much you'll pay in interest alone when you've repaid the loan. Think of it as a measure of the “extra” you're paying for the privilege of borrowing, which you can use to opt for a shorter loan term to save money.

  • Principal paid: This is the original loan amount you'll have paid off at the end of the loan term.

  • Amortization schedule: This detailed breakdown shows how each payment is divided between principal and interest over time. It's a timeline that shows how your balance decreases and how much of your payments go toward actually reducing your debt versus paying off interest.

What Other Factors Impact Student Loan Payments?

Various factors can significantly affect your monthly student loan payments and the total amount you'll repay. Here are some of them:

  • Repayment plan: Your choice of repayment plan can significantly impact your monthly payments and total repayment amount. Standard plans divide the loan into equal monthly payments, while income-driven plans adjust payments based on your income and family size. Each has its pros and cons, affecting your monthly budget and your long-term financial health.

  • Additional payments: The power of making extra payments shouldn't be underestimated. These payments are applied directly to the principal amount, reducing the overall interest you'll accrue over time. It's a proactive strategy that can shorten your loan term and save you money in the long run.

  • Fees and penalties: Some loans come with origination fees, late fees or prepayment penalties. These additional costs are often overlooked but can add up over time. Awareness of extra charges and how to avoid them can make a noticeable difference in your total repayment amount.

  • Grace periods and deferments: Some loans offer grace periods or deferments, allowing you to pause payments temporarily. While this can provide short-term relief, interest may continue to accrue, increasing your total repayment amount. It's essential to understand the implications of these options on your long-term financial obligations.

What Are the Types of Student Loans

When financing your education, you generally have two main options: private and federal student loans. Each has its features, benefits and drawbacks, making it crucial to understand the differences to choose the best fit for your financial needs.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are offered by private lenders like banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. The interest rates for these loans can be either fixed or variable and are often determined by your credit score — a higher score can secure you a more favorable rate. Additionally, they may require a co-signer, especially if you don't have an established credit history.

Repayment options for private student loans are generally less flexible, with fewer opportunities for deferment, forbearance or income-driven plans. It's essential to read the fine print and understand all the terms before taking out a private student loan, as they often come with fewer protections for borrowers.

Federal Student Loans

The federal government funds federal student loans and offers a more standardized set of terms and protections. They often come with lower, fixed interest rates and offer various repayment plans tailored to your income and financial situation. Additionally, federal loans provide options for deferment, forbearance and even loan forgiveness under certain conditions.

There are several types of federal student loans, each designed to meet different needs. These are:

  • Direct subsidized loans: These loans are available to undergraduate students with evident financial need. The government pays the interest while you're in an in-school, grace or deferment period. This makes these loans a cost-effective option for students who may struggle to pay interest while still in school.

  • Direct unsubsidized loans: Unlike subsidized loans, these are available to both undergraduate and graduate students without requiring demonstrated financial need. However, you're responsible for all the interest that accrues, starting from the disbursement of the loan. This means the loan can cost you more in the long run if you don't make interest payments while in school.

  • Direct PLUS loans: These loans are aimed at graduate students or parents of dependent undergraduate students. They have higher interest rates and require a credit check, but they also allow you to borrow up to the full cost of attendance. They're a good option if you need to bridge the gap between other financial aid and the total cost of your education.

  • Direct consolidation loans: These loans allow you to combine multiple federal student loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate. The rate is the weighted average rate of the combined loans, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. Consolidation can simplify your payments, but it may also extend your repayment period, leading to more interest paid over time.

How to Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments

Managing student loan payments can be a significant financial burden, but there are strategies to make it more manageable. Lowering your monthly payments can provide some much-needed breathing room in your budget. Here are some ways you can achieve this goal.

  • Income-driven repayment plans: Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) are all income-driven plans. Available for federal student loans, these plans adjust your monthly payments based on your income and family size. After a set number of years, any remaining balance is forgiven, making this a long-term strategy for loan management.

  • Refinancing: This involves taking out a new loan with a private lender to pay off your existing loans, ideally at a lower interest rate. Refinancing can lower your monthly payments, but it's a double-edged sword. You may lose federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options.

  • Extended repayment plans: These plans extend the term of your loan and can significantly reduce your monthly payments. While this can ease immediate financial strain, it's a long game that results in more interest paid over the life of the loan. It's a trade-off between short-term relief and long-term cost.

  • Student loan forgiveness programs: Various programs exist aimed at forgiving a portion or even all of your federal student loans, often in exchange for certain types of employment or public service. Qualifying for these programs can significantly reduce or eliminate your monthly payments, making it a powerful option for long-term financial relief.

Student Loans FAQ

We compiled a list of frequently asked questions about student loans to help you make a financially sound educational decision.

How do interest rates work on student loans?
What are income-driven repayment plans?
Can I defer my student loans?
What is a loan consolidation, and should I consider it?
Are there loan forgiveness options?
What happens if I default on my student loans?

Other Student Loan Resources

About Christopher Boston

Christopher Boston headshot

Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.

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