Once you graduate or are no longer enrolled, you will be expected to begin repaying any student loans you received as part of your financial aid award. Topics on this page that are relevant to the repayment of your loans include:
- Exit Counseling
- Grace Period
- Determining Your Lender or Servicer
- Repayment Options
- Payment Amount
- Inability to Make Payments
- Loan Forgiveness
- Loan Consolidation
Exit counseling will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and will provide useful tips and information to help you manage your loans.
Borrowers of Federal Direct loans who are no longer enrolled at least half-time at the University of Denver must complete federally mandated exit counseling as soon as they cease enrollment. This is a federal regulation and applies to all students who have graduated, officially withdrawn, dropped below half-time enrollment, transferred to another institution, or simply ceased attendance at DU. You may have been required to complete exit counseling in the past, but federal regulations require that you complete exit counseling every time you meet these conditions.
Wait until you receive a communication from the Office of Financial Aid before completing exit counseling. Notifications of this requirement generally go out the week of graduation.
Exit counseling can be completed online, in about 30 minutes, through www.StudentLoans.gov. You will need your Federal PIN to log in. If you have lost or forgotten your PIN, you may apply for another at www.PIN.ed.gov.
Please note: Students who have borrowed a Perkins loan must complete exit counseling separately. Please contact the Bursar's Office by calling 303-871-4944 to schedule your exit interview.
After you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment, you are entitled to one grace period for Direct and Perkins loans. During this time--which is typically six months for Direct and nine months for Perkins--you are not required to make payments.
Grace periods are day-specific. Your grace period begins on the day immediately following the day you stop attending school at least half-time and ends on the day before the repayment period begins.
The interest on Perkins loans and subsidized loans borrowed prior to the 2012-13 academic year is paid by the federal government during your grace period. On unsubsidized loans, you are responsible for the interest. While you don't have to pay the interest during your grace period, any unpaid interest is capitalized--added to the loan principal--when repayment begins.
Repayment begins the day after your grace period ends; your first payment is due within 60 days. You will receive communication from your lender or servicer about repaying your loans. If you do not, be sure to contact your lender or servicer directly.
Determining Your Lender or Servicer
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) provides comprehensive information about your federal loan history, including your lender or servicer contact information, loan totals and loan status. Students may access NSLDS by logging onto www.NSLDS.ed.gov. Your FAFSA PIN number is required to access your information.
The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA) was signed into law in May of 2008 authorizing lenders to sell their student loan portfolios to the Department of Education in order to create ongoing liquidity and availability of funds for students. Therefore, you may have acquired a new servicer for a loan you previously borrowed. You will be notified by your lender about your new servicer, and you will receive communication from your new servicer about any changes.
It's important to know who is servicing your loans, as you will be working with them directly throughout repayment. A list of current federal student loan servicers is available through www.StudentLoans.gov.
Note: NSLDS will only show your federal loan history. If you borrowed a private education loan, those will appear on your credit report and you should contact your private lender directly regarding your repayment options.
You have several repayment options available to you with federal student loans. Your servicer will automatically set up your loan on the standard repayment plan. If you prefer another repayment plan, simply call your servicer to discuss your options. You also have the option to change your repayment plan on an annual basis. Learn more about repaying your student loan debt by using the repayment assistant tool.
Types of Repayment Plans:
- Fixed monthly payment of at least $50.
- Repayment term cannot exceed 10 years, excluding in-school, grace, and deferment or forbearance periods.
- Learn more about the Standard Repayment Plan >>
- Payments are smaller at the beginning of repayment and gradually increase over time.
- No single payment may be more than three times greater than any other payment.
- Repayment term is generally 10 years.
- Learn more about the Graduated Repayment Plan >>
- Available to borrowers that do not have an outstanding balance as of 10/07/1998 and have an outstanding balance of principal and interest totaling more than $30,000.
- Payment must cover at least the interest due.
- Repayment term cannot exceed 25 years.
- Learn more about the Extended Repayment Plan >>
- You must demonstrate partial financial hardship to qualify.
- Payments are 15 percent of your discretionary income. Discretionary income equals your Adjusted Gross Income minus 150% of the Federal Poverty Rate.
- Payments are adjusted annually based on your Adjusted Gross Income and family size.
- Payments can be as low as zero.
- If, after 25 years of payments, there is still a principal or interest balance on your loan, this remaining amount can be forgiven. For individuals who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (see below), the forgiveness can occur after 10 years of payments.
- Use this IBR Loan Calculator to determine if you qualify for the IBR plan.
- Learn more about the Income-Based Repayment Plan >>
Pay As You Earn Repayment (Direct Loans Only)
- You must be a new borrower on or after October 1, 2007, and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011.
- You must demonstrate partial financial hardship to qualify.
- Payments are 10 percent of your discretionary income. Discretionary income equals your Adjusted Gross Income minus 150% of the Federal Poverty Rate.
- Payments change as your income changes.
- Payments can be as low as zero.
- If, after 20 years of payments, there is still a principal or interest balance on your loan, this remaining amount can be forgiven. For individuals who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (see below), the forgiveness can occur after 10 years of payments.
- Use this Pay As You Earn Calculator to determine if you qualify for this plan.
- Learn more about the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan >>
Income-Contingent Repayment (Direct Loans Only)
- Similar to the IBR plan described above.
- Payments are calculated each year and are based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans.
- If, after 25 years of payments, there is a remaining principal or interest balance on your loan, this remaining amount can be forgiven. You may, however, have to pay taxes on the amount that is discharged.
- Use this ICR Loan Calculator to determine your payment under the ICR plan.
- Learn more about the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan >>
Your payments will vary depending on the amount and type of loans that you've borrowed, the repayment plan that you select and, potentially, your income. There are a number of calculators available to help you calculate your payments.
- ECMC Calculator: This calculator will help you compare various repayment plans and provide information on consolidation rates and payments.
- FinAid.org Calculators: This site contains a number of calculators to help you determine payments. The Income-Based Calculator on this site takes into account potential increases in income and how they would affect your monthly loan payments. These calculators provide a little more detailed information than the EDFund calculator.
Inability to Make Payments
If you think you will have trouble making your loan payments, be sure to contact your lender or servicer immediately. They can help you change your payment plan to one that better fits your budget, or discuss deferment or forbearance options that will allow you to postpone your payments. Ask for help before you fall behind!
Deferment: Deferments allow you to temporarily postpone the payment of your loan. Deferments are not automatic; you must apply and be approved by your lender. The most common reasons for deferment include:
- returning to school at least half-time
- loss of job or inability to find a job
- economic hardship
- on active duty during war, national emergency or military operation
During periods of deferment on subsidized Direct loans, the principal payments are postponed and interest is paid by the federal government. However, you are responsible for interest that accrues on any unsubsidized Direct loan. If you do not meet the requirements for a deferment, you may request forbearance from your lender.
Forbearance: If you do not qualify for a deferment, you may be eligible to request forbearance from your lender. Forbearance is the temporary postponement or reduction in your monthly payment. Often the amount of time it takes to repay your loan is extended. Interest continues to accrue during the period, so if you do not make interest payments it will increase your total loan balance. There are several different types of forbearance available depending on your situation, and it must be approved by your lender.
Loan forgiveness programs promote careers in fields that are under-serviced or fields that meet particular community needs. Depending on your situation, all or a portion of your loans may be cancelled or forgiven through these programs.
Types of Loan Forgiveness:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you can qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your federal student loans after you have made 120 payments while employed full-time by certain public service employers. The 120 required payments need to be made under the Direct Loan Program (meaning you may need to consolidate your loans into the DL Program upon graduation if a portion your current loans are borrowed through the bank-based FFEL program). To qualify, you must make payments under one of the following repayment programs: Income Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment, or Standard Repayment. Additional information is available at www.StudentLoans.gov.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest on their FFEL and/or Direct loans. Additional information is available at www.StudentLoans.gov.
Perkins Loan Cancellation
In certain cases, all or a portion of your Perkins Loan can be cancelled. Perkins loans can be cancelled for service as a full-time teacher in certain areas, a full-time librarian, law enforcement, public defender, firefighter, full-time nurse or medical technician, full-time family service provider, for certain military service and for Peace Corps or ACTION volunteers. More information on Perkins Loan cancellation can be obtained through the Bursar's Office website. For reference, a Perkins Cancellation form is located under the "Forms" link on the Bursar's Office website.
Consolidation happens when you combine multiple federal student loans, with various repayment schedules, into one loan. The result is one loan with one monthly payment. All federal student loans are eligible for consolidation (private education loans are not eligible).
Benefits of Consolidation:
- Possible lower monthly payment.
- The interest rate on a consolidation loan is the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated, rounded up to the nearest 1/8 of a percent and capped at 8.25%.
- Repayment may be extended for up to 30 years.
- You receive a fixed interest rate on your consolidation loan.
- One single payment to one lender.
- To qualify for loan forgiveness for public service employees, you need to have an eligible Direct Loan. If you borrowed under the FFEL program, consolidating your loans with the Department of Education will convert your loan to a Direct Loan.
Before consolidating, evaluate the benefits provided by your current lender. The loan discounts offered by originating lenders tend to be superior to those offered through a consolidation loan, since these loans have tighter margins. Also, if you received a fee waiver or rebate from the originating lender, you may have to repay that discount if you consolidate. It may be possible to get some of the benefits of alternate repayment plans without consolidating, such as extended/graduated repayment with a loan term of up to 25 years and a single monthly payment, if you have more than $30,000 in federal education loan debt accumulated since October 7, 1998 with the lender.
- Although your monthly payment may be less, you are paying more in interest over the life of the loan.
- You will lose your grace period on all loans included in the consolidation.
- You may be at risk of losing borrower benefits with your existing lender (interest rate reductions, discharge or cancellation benefits on Perkins Loans, etc.).
- Private loans are not eligible for consolidation, and must be repaid directly to your private loan lender. Refer to your loan applications to find your lender or servicer.
To learn more about consolidation, or to apply for a consolidation loan, visit www.LoanConsolidation.ed.gov.