Student Loan Repayment Statistics

Student Loan Repayment Statistics

Top student loan repayment statistics

  • Prior to the CARE Act, the average monthly student loan repayment was $460
  • Federal guidelines suggest that 10% – 36% of a borrower’s salary should go towards repaying student loans
  • There are 2.5 million 60+ years old Americans that are still making student loan payments
  • On average, it takes borrowers 20 years to repay their student loan in full
  • As much as two-thirds of what a borrower repays can be interest that has accrued on the original loan
  • 43% of graduates thought they would take more than 15 years to pay off their student loans
  • In reality, only 8% of people that pay off their student loans take more than 15 years to do so

Student loan repayment status statistics

  • 6.4 million student loan borrowers are currently in school and owe a total of $118 billion in student loan debt to the federal government
  • A further 1.6 million borrowers are in the 6-month grace period (usually after graduation) before repayments start
  • They owe a total of $41 billion – an average of $25,625 each
  • Only 500 thousand student loan borrowers are currently re-paying their loan under standard circumstances due to the CARE Act that provides relief from COVID-19
  • These borrowers owe a combined $16 billion
  • A combined 27.1 million borrowers are in deferment and forbearance owing more than $1 trillion
  • Deferment and forbearance mean that borrowers do not have to make monthly repayments at the moment
  • $112 billion worth of student loan debt is in default – meaning that the borrowers have missed repayment for an extended period of time
StatusAmount owedNumber of borrowers
In-school$118 billion6.4 million
Grace period$41 billion1.6 million
Repayment$16 billion0.5 million
Deferment$113 billion3.1 million
Forbearance$968 billion24 million
Default$112 billion5.1 million

Student loan repayment plan statistics

  • 10.5 million people are on the standard student loan repayment plan owing $202 billion
  • 3.3 million people are on REPAYE student loan repayment plan owing a combined $200 billion

There are a number of ways that student loan borrowers can choose to repay their student loans. The main repayment plans are:

  • Standard – standard plan to pay off student loans over 10 years that is available to all borrowers. The borrower will usually pay less in total but will generally pay a higher monthly payment than other plans
  • Graduated – This plan begins with lower repayments and the payments increase every two years with the goal of paying off the total loan within 10 years. The idea behind this loan is that a borrower will earn more as their career progresses and can afford higher monthly payments
  • Income-contingent (ICR) – This plan is for people with Direct loans. With this plan, if the loan is not paid off within 25 years, any outstanding debt is forgiven. Generally, with this plan, 20% of a borrower’s income goes to pay off student loans. This amount is recalculated each year to determine the new payment for the following year.
  • Income-based (IBR) – IBR is for people who have a low income and high debt. The payments will be 10 – 15% of the borrower’s income and are re-calculated each year. Any outstanding loan balance is forgiven after 20 – 25 years of repayments.
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE) – This is also for people with a high level of debt to income. Generally, payments will be 10% of a borrower’s income but will never be higher than the monthly payments that would be paid on the standard repayment schedule.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) – Direct loan borrowers can take this plan where 10% of their salary is used to pay off their student loans. Loans are forgiven after 20 or 25 years depending if the borrower has an undergraduate or graduate loan.
Repayment planLoan amountNumber of borrowers
Standard$202 billion10.5 million
Graduated$91 billion3.1 million
Income-contingent (ICR)$37 billion0.8 million
Income-based (IBR)$173 billion2.8 million
Pay As You Earn (PAYE)$112 billion1.5 million
Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)$200 billion3.3 million

Percentage of late student loan repayments

  • In 2021, 3.16% of borrowers were 30+ days behind with their student loan repayments
  • This was down significantly from 6.75% in 2013
  • The number of people that were more than 90 days late reduced from 3.28% in 2013 to less than 1% in 2021
Year30-90 days late90+ days lateTotal % late

Student loan monthly repayment statistics

Average monthly student loan repayment over the years


Average monthly student loan repayment by degree type

  • Student with a professional degree pay almost 5 times as much per month in student loan repayments than those with associate degrees
  • Generally, the higher the educational attainment, the higher the salary and the higher the monthly repayments 
Degree typeAvg. monthly repayment
Associate’s Degree$333
Bachelor’s Degree$448
Master’s Degree$695
Professional Degree$1,537

Estimated time to pay off student loans

In general, borrowers have a much more pessimistic outlook on how long it will take them to repay their loans versus the reality. However, one thing to note in this data is the estimates come from people who have not repaid their loans whereas the time in reality comes from people who have paid off their student loans. 

This fact does bias the data somewhat but the data is interesting nonetheless.

  • 4x times as many people pay off their student loans within 1 year of graduating than anticipated they would be able to
  • Almost 3x as many borrowers paid off their student loans in 1 – 5 years than anticipated
  • 43% of graduates thought they would take more than 15 years to pay off their student loans
  • In reality, only 8% of people that pay off their student loans take more than 15 years to do so
Time to pay off student debtEstimate of those with debtTime taken in reality
< 1 year2%8%
1 to 5 years17%46%
6 to 10 years18%26%
11 to 15 years12%7%
16 to 20 years10%5%
21 to 25 years6%2%
26 to 30 years4%1%
30 years or longer7%0%