Average Student Loan Payment

The average undergraduate borrower owes $234 a month in federal student loan payments. Find out what you may owe and when payments resume.

Updated September 27, 2022

Edited by Jordan Stewart-Rozema, Ph.D.
Fact-checked by Marley Hall
Average Student Loan Payment
Opinion & Analysis
Photo by Fiordaliso / Moment / Getty Images


Data Summary

  • The average federal student loan payment is $267 for bachelor's and $196 for associate degree-completers.[1]
  • The average monthly repayment for master's degree-holders is $567.[2]
  • Bachelor's degree-holders from for-profit colleges have higher average student loan payments -- almost $100 more -- than graduates of public colleges.Footnote [1]
  • Monthly payments on private student loans vary by borrower and depend on the interest rate and loan term.
  • Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are available to federal student loan borrowers.

For the past two and a half years, the government has temporarily suspended student loan payments and interest. President Biden recently extended the student loan payment pause again. Borrowers can plan to start making payments on December 31.[3]

If you're a student, you don't have to begin paying off federal loans as long as you're in school full time.[4] (Though you can if you're able.) You should still know your loan details, including what and when you're expected to pay.

This report covers average student loan payments for recent college grads for different school types, loan types, and degrees.

Average Student Loan Payment

To calculate average student loan payments, we started with borrowers' average federal student debt at graduation. We do not use the average student loan debt for all borrowers, which includes people who have repaid much of their debt and those whose debt has grown.

We assumed a standard 10-year term[5] and applied the average federal interest rate for the past 10 years.[6]

The average student loan payment varies across factors, including:

Average Student Loan Payment by Degree Level

The average student loan payment for borrowers who recently completed an undergraduate program is $234.Footnote [1] Graduate programs tend to cost more. So, grad student borrowers take out higher loan amounts and have higher monthly payments over the standard loan term.

Average Student Loan Payment by Degree
Program Type Average Cumulative Debt at Graduation (Federal Loans Only) Average Monthly Student Loan Payment on Standard Repayment Plan
Associate $19,270 $196.29
Bachelor's $26,190 $266.78
Master's $50,290 $567.46
MBA $50,150 $565.88
Doctorate $101,490 $1,145.18
Law Degree (JD) $129,290 $1,458.87
Medicine Degree (MD or DO) $223,060 $2,516.94

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Tables 331.95 and 332.45

Average Student Loan Payment by School Type

Bachelor's degree-holders from private for-profit colleges tend to have higher federal student loan payments than those from public or private nonprofit schools. On average, their monthly payments are close to $100 more than graduates of public colleges.

Average Student Loan Payment by School Type (Bachelor's Completers)
Institution Type Average Cumulative Debt at Graduation (Federal Loans Only) Average Monthly Student Loan Payment on Standard Repayment Plan
Public $24,650 $251.10
Private Nonprofit $27,340 $278.50
Private For-Profit $33,620 $342.47

Source: NCES

Private Student Loan Payments

Private student loans may have different interest rates and terms than federal loans. They frequently do not have a grace period while you're in school. In addition, private lenders don't report average student loan amounts to the government, so the data is harder to come by.

We applied a typical range for fixed interest rates across a few different loan amounts and terms. Typically, longer loan terms mean higher interest. Below, see how interest rates impact monthly payments. Keep in mind that payment amounts can change monthly for loans with variable interest rates.

Student Loan Payments on a $10,000 Loan

Student Loan Payments on a $10,000 Loan
Term Monthly Payment, 4% APR Monthly Payment, 9% APR Monthly Payment, 14% APR
5 Years $184.17 $207.58 $232.68
10 Years $101.25 $126.68 $155.27
15 Years $73.97 $101.43 $133.17
20 Years $60.60 $89.97 $124.35

Student Loan Payments on a $15,000 Loan

Student Loan Payments on a $15,000 Loan
Term Monthly Payment, 4% APR Monthly Payment, 9% APR Monthly Payment, 14% APR
5 Years $276.25 $311.38 $349.02
10 Years $151.87 $190.01 $232.90
15 Years $110.95 $152.14 $199.76
20 Years $90.90 $134.96 $186.53

Student Loan Payments on a $20,000 Loan

Student Loan Payments on a $20,000 Loan
Term Monthly Payment, 4% APR Monthly Payment, 9% APR Monthly Payment, 14% APR
5 Years $368.33 $415.17 $465.37
10 Years $202.49 $253.35 $310.53
15 Years $147.94 $202.85 $266.35
20 Years $121.20 $179.95 $248.70

Student Loan Payments on a $50,000 Loan

Student Loan Payments on a $50,000 Loan
Term Monthly Payment, 4% APR Monthly Payment, 9% APR Monthly Payment, 14% APR
5 Years $920.83 $1,037.92 $1,163.41
10 Years $506.23 $633.38 $776.33
15 Years $369.84 $507.13 $665.87
20 Years $302.99 $449.86 $621.76

Student Loan Payments for Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you're struggling to make student loan payments, you can enroll in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. In IDR plans, you pay a percentage of your discretionary income — what you earn over a threshold set by the government. IDR loan terms are longer, lasting 20-25 years. You can only use these repayment plans for federal loans.

IDR plans have different payment requirements:[7]

  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): 10% of your monthly discretionary income
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): 10% of your monthly discretionary income, as long as it does not exceed the standard loan payment amount
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): 10% of your discretionary income for new borrowers; otherwise, 15%
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): 20% of your monthly discretionary income

The Department of Education (ED) has discussed a new, simpler IDR plan, but recently delayed its release.

You can find out what you would owe on an IDR plan using the ED's Loan Simulator.

Average Monthly Student Loan Repayment in Prior Years

Federal student loan interest rates have fallen in the past 15 years. With them, the average student loan payment has decreased.

The graph below depicts monthly student loan payments based on the average federal loan amount awarded to undergraduate students each year (not necessarily undergraduates' cumulative loan amount at graduation).

Sources: NCES, Federal Student Aid

Frequently Asked Questions About the Average Student Loan Payment

How are student loan payments calculated?

Your monthly student loan payment depends on different factors:

  • Interest Rate: Federal student loan interest rates for new loans change yearly. Private interest rates are different for everyone.
  • Loan Term: Most federal student loans have 10-year terms. Private loan terms vary.
  • Your Income: If you enroll in an IDR plan, you pay a certain percentage of your discretionary income toward your student debt over a longer term.

How much are student loan payments?

The average monthly federal student loan payment for recent undergraduate degree-recipients is $234.Footnote [1] People generally borrow more and have higher interest rates for graduate degrees. Therefore, their monthly payments are higher. Average federal student loan payments for master's degree-holders are about $570 a month.

If you cannot afford your federal student loan payment, you may enroll in IDR. On an IDR plan, you usually pay 10-20% of your discretionary income against your student loans for 20-25 years.

When do student loan payments resume?

Federal student loan payments are scheduled to resume on December 31, 2022.Footnote [3] You can start financially preparing to repay your student loans before then.



References

  1. Table 331.95. Percentage of undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received federal loans and parent PLUS loans and average cumulative loan amount, by degree level, selected student characteristics, and institution control: 2017-18. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). February 2022.
  2. Table 332.45. Percentage of graduate degree completers with student loan debt and average cumulative amount owed, by level of education funded and graduate degree type, institution control, and degree program: Selected years, 1999-2000 through 2015-16. NCES. August 2020.
  3. Covid Emergency Relief and Federal Student Aid. Federal Student aid, an Office of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Accessed August 2022.
  4. Student Loan Repayment. Federal Student Aid, an Office of the ED. Accessed August 2022.
  5. Standard Plan. Federal Student Aid, an Office of the ED. Accessed August 2022.
  6. Federal Interest Rates and Fees, Federal Student Aid, an Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Accessed August 2022.
  7. Income-Driven Repayment Plans. Federal Student Aid, an Office of the ED. Accessed August 2022.