Average Student Loan Payment

Letter Grade / Descriptor Numerical Range
A Excellent 90-100
B Good 80-90

Report Highlights:

  • The average monthly student loan payment is $393.
  • It takes student borrowers an average of 20 years, or 240 monthly payments, to repay their student loan debt.
  • At a 6% interest rate over 20 years, the average student loan accrues $26,000 in interest alone, or 67.1% of the total cost of repayment.

Most of the 43.4 million Americans with student loan debt make regular monthly payments to diminish their debt. The average student loan payment can range widely among individuals of various income and debt levels. Lump sum payments are rare and usually only happen in the event of student loan default. Instead, most borrowers pay off their debts in regular installments.

Average Student Loan Payments

An appropriate monthly payment is based on multiple variables. The indebted student’s income is a significant factor in determining monthly payments. The total debt and interest rate as well as the borrower’s repayment timeline may all affect the dollar amount of their monthly payments.

  • $393 is the average monthly student loan payment.
  • 10% of income should go toward paying off debts according to federal guidelines; $393 is 10% of $47,160.
  • 36% of income is the maximum amount that should go toward paying off debt according to the same federal guidelines; $393 is 36% of $13,100.
  • 10 years is the ideal timeline for paying off student loan debt according to financial experts.
  • The mean starting salary for among all new graduates is $55,800, 10% of which is $465.
  • 3% is the rough interest rate on the most commonly used federal student loans.
  • The average debt per borrower is $36,140; the majority of undergraduate borrowers owe less than $30,000.
  • The average debt per enrolled student is $30,000. These are the only parameters available for some historical data.
Average Student Loan Payments (3% APR)
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$393 10% $47,160 $40,700 10 years $47,160 120
$393 10% $47,160 $30,000 7 yrs, 1 mo $33,300 85
$465 10% $55,800 $30,000 5 yrs, 10 mos $32,800 70
$290 6.2% $55,800 $30,000 10 years $34,800 120
$290 7.3% $47,160 $30,000 10 years $34,800 120
$465 10% $55,800 $48,156 10 years $55,800 120

Class of 2021 Student Loan Payments

Because student loan interest rates are at historic lows, current students may reasonably expect to pay off their student loan debts within the recommended 10-year timeline.

  • Between $354 and $541 is the ideal monthly payment for a newly graduated Bachelor’s degree holder.
  • 2.75% is the interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized federal student loans to undergraduate borrowers.
  • Undergraduates of public institutions owe an average of $29,500 per enrolled student.
  • $42,500 is a low-end starting salary for a new graduate with a Bachelor’s degree.
  • $73,800 is a high-end salary.
  • $64,900 is the average annual salary for a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s degree.
  • $52,000 is the median salary for new graduates with Bachelor’s degrees.
Undergraduate Class of 2021 Student Loan Payments
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$354 10% $42,500 $29,500 7 yrs, 9 mos $32,800 93
$393 11.1% $42,500 $29,500 6 yrs, 10 mos $32,400 83
$393 11.1% $42,500 $35,000 8 yrs, 4 mos $39,200 100
$393 11.1% $42,500 $45,300 11 yrs, 2 mos $52,700 135
$393 9% $52,000 $29,500 6 yrs, 10 mos $32,400 83
$393 7% $64,900 $29,500 6 yrs, 10 mos $32,400 83
$433 10% $52,000 $29,500 6 yrs, 2 mos $32,100 75
$433 10% $52,000 $35,000 7 yrs, 6 mos $38,800 90
$433 10% $52,000 $45,300 10 yrs $51,900 105
$541 10% $64,900 $29,500 4 yrs, 10 mos $31,500 59
$541 10% $64,900 $35,000 5 yrs, 10 mos $37,900 71
$541 10% $64,900 $45,300 7 yrs, 9 mos $50,400 94

Associate’s Student Loan Payments

Student borrowers with Associate’s degrees are the most likely to pay off their student loans faster than other degree holders. From a purely financial stand-point, this gives the average Associate’s degree the highest value in terms of cost-benefit ratio.

  • Just 41% of Associate’s degree holders who graduated from public institutions use student loans to pay for school.
  • 84% of attendees of private, nonprofit schools take on student loan debt.
  • 88% of attendees of private, for-profit schools take on student loan debt.
  • $46,100 is the average annual salary for a recently graduated Associate’s degree holder.
  • $33,800 is the low-end average annual salary.
  • 4 to 7+ years is the projected student loan debt repayment period for Associate’s degree holders who graduate in 2021.
Associate’s Student Loan Payments at 10% Income
Monthly
Payment
Income Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$281 $33,800 $17,800 5 yrs, 9 mos $19,300 67
$281 $33,800 $28,300 9 yrs, 7 mos $32,200 115
$281 $33,800 $30,100 10 yrs, 3 mos $34,600 124
$384 $46,100 $17,800 4 yrs, 1 mo $18,800 49
$384 $46,100 $28,300 6 yrs, 9 mos $31,000 81
$384 $46,100 $30,100 7 yrs, 3 mos $33,200 87

Average Payments for Graduate Student Loans

Graduate students logically must make higher monthly payments. For some degrees, this doesn’t just mean paying a higher dollar amount; it may also mean a significant portion of a borrower’s income goes toward repaying student loan debt.

  • 4.3% is the interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized federal student loans to graduate or professional borrowers.
  • 5.3% is the interest rate for Direct PLUS loans, which go to graduate or professional borrowers as well as parents of undergraduates borrowing on their behalf.
  • $58,300 is the average student debt for a borrower who graduated from a public institution with a Master’s degree.
  • $96,700 is the average debt for Master’s degree holders who attended a private, for-profit institution.
  • $77,800 is the average salary for a Master’s degree holder.
  • $42,000 is the low-end salary for a Master’s degree holder.
Master’s Student Loan Payments
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income % APR Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$350 10% $42,000 4.3% $58,300 21 yrs, 2 mos $88,900 254
$350 10% $42,000 4.3% $77,000 36 yrs, 2 mos $151,900 434
$350 10% $42,000 4.3% $96,700 107 yrs, 4 mos $450,800 1,289
$350 10% $42,000 5.3% $58,300 25 yrs, 2 mos $105,700 302
$350 10% $42,000 5.3% $77,000 67 yrs, 5 mos $283,000 809
$350 10% $42,000 5.3% $96,700 NA* NA NA
$430 12.3% $42,000 5.3% $96,700 94 yrs, 6 mos $487,500 1,134
$648 10% $77,800 4.3% $58,300 9 yrs, 1 mo $70,500 109
$648 10% $77,800 4.3% $96,700 17 yrs, 10 mos $138,600 214
$648 10% $77,800 4.3% $58,300 9 yrs, 7 mos $74,500 115
$648 10% $77,800 4.3% $77,000 12 yrs, 11 mos $100,500 156
$648 10% $77,800 5.3% $77,000 14 yrs, 1 mo $109,400 169
$648 10% $77,800 5.3% $96,700 20 yrs, 4 mos $158,200 245
$599 17.1% $42,000 4.3% $58,300 10 years $71,800 120
$627 17.9% $42,000 5.3% $58,300 10 years $75,200 120
$791 22.6% $42,000 4.3% $77,000 10 years $94,900 120
$791 12.2% $77,800 4.3% $77,000 10 years $94,900 120
$828 23.7% $42,000 5.3% “” 10 years $99,400 120
$828 12.8% $77,800 5.3% $77,000 10 years $99,400 120
$993 28% $42,000 4.3% $96,700 10 years $119,100 120
$993 15.3% $77,800 5.3% $77,000 10 years $119,100 120
$1,040 29.7% $42,000 5.3% $96,700 10 years $124,800 120
$1,039 16% $77,800 5.8% $96,700 10 years $124,800 120

*It is not possible to pay off this loan at this rate.

Monthly Payments for Professional and Doctorate Degree Holders

The average debt for a graduate from a private, nonprofit institution with a Professional degree is about the same as the average medical school debt.

  • $101,100 is the average salary for people with Doctorate degrees.
  • $69,000 is a low-end salary for Doctorate degree holders.
  • $98,700 is the average debt for a Doctorate degree.
  • $243,300 is the average debt for Professional degree holders who attended private, nonprofit institutions.
  • $100,000 is the average annual salary for someone with a Professional degree.
  • $62,500 is a low-end salary for someone with a Professional degree.
Doctoral Student Loan Payments
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income % APR Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$575 10% $69,000 4.3% $98,700 22 yrs, 3 mos $153,500 267
$575 10% $69,000 4.3% $100,700 23 yrs, 0 mos $158,800 277
$575 10% $69,000 4.3% $171,400 NA NA NA
$575 10% $69,000 5.3% $98,700 26 yrs, 10 mos $185,200 322
$575 10% $69,000 5.3% $100,700 28 yrs, 1 mo $193,800 337
$575 10% $69,000 5.3% $171,400 NA NA NA
$623 10.8% $69,000 4.3% $171,400 99 yrs, 2 mos $741,600 1,191
$761 13.2% $69,000 5.3% $171,400 99 yrs, 4 mos $907,000 1,192
$843 10% $101,100 4.3% $98,700 12 yrs, 8 mos $128,200 152
$843 10% $101,100 4.3% $100,700 13 yrs, 0 mos $131,700 156
$843 10% $101,100 4.3% $171,400 30 yrs, 5 mos $307,300 365
$843 10% $101,100 5.3% $98,700 13 yrs, 9 mos $139,300 165
$843 10% $101,100 5.3% $100,700 14 yrs, 2 mos $143,400 170
$843 10% $101,100 5.3% $171,400 43 yrs, 2 mos $436,700 518
$1,014 12.0% $101,100 4.3% $98,700 10 years $121,600 120
$1,014 17.6% $69,000 4.3% $98,700 10 years $121,600 120
$1,034 18.0% $69,000 4.3% $100,700 10 years $124,100 120
$1,034 12.3% $101,100 4.3% $100,700 10 years $124,100 120
$1,061 18.5% $69,000 5.3% $98,700 10 years $127,400 120
$1,061 12.6% $101,100 5.3% $98,700 10 years $127,400 120
$1,083 18.8% $69,000 5.3% $100,700 10 years $129,900 120
$1,083 12.9% $101,100 5.3% $100,700 10 years $129,900 120
$1,760 30.6% $69,000 4.3% $171,400 10 years $211,200 120
$1,760 20.9% $101,100 4.3% $171,400 10 years $211,200 120
$1,844 32.1% $69,000 5.3% $171,400 10 years $221,200 120
$1,844 21.9% $101,100 5.3% $171,400 10 years $221,200 120
Professional Student Loan Payments
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income % APR Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$521 10% $62,500 4.3% $152,600 NA NA NA
$555 11% $62,500 4.3% $152,600 71 yrs, 11 mos $494,300 863
$1,567 30% $62,500 4.3% $152,600 10 years $188,000 120
$880 17% $62,500 4.3% $237,400 79 yrs, 3 mos $836,900 951
$1,875 36% $62,500 4.3% $237,400 14 yrs, 1 mo $316,900 169
$2,438 48.7% $62,500 4.3% $237,400 10 years $292,500 120
$800 15.4% $62,500 4.3% $203,600 56 yrs, 7 mos $543,500 680
$1,875 36% $62,500 4.3% $203,600 11 yrs, 6 mos $258,300 138
$2,091 40.1% $62,500 4.3% $203,600 10 years $250,900 120
$700 13.4% $62,500 5.3% $152,600 62 yrs, 3 mos $523,000 747
$1,641 31.5% $62,500 5.3% $152,600 10 years $196,900 120
$1,060 20.4% $62,500 5.3% $237,400 85 yrs, 7 mos $1,088,400 1,027
$1,875 36% $62,500 5.3% $237,400 15 yrs, 6 mos $348,500 186
$2,553 49.0% $62,500 5.3% $237,400 10 years $306,400 120
$1,000 19.2% $62,500 5.3% $203,600 43 yrs, 5 mos $520,800 521
$1,875 36% $62,500 5.3% $203,600 12 yrs, 4 mos $277,900 148
$2,189 42% $62,500 5.3% $203,600 10 years $262,700 120
$833 10% $100,000 4.3% $152,600 24 yrs, 11 mos $248,800 299
$1,567 18.8% $100,000 % $152,600 10 years $188,022 120
$833 10% $100,000 4.3% $237,400 yrs, mos $
$833 10% $100,000 4.3% $237,400 NA NA NA
$900 10.8% $100,000 4.3% $237,400 67 yrs, 8 mos $730,700 812
$2,438 29.3% $100,000 4.3% $237,400 10 years $292,500 120
$833 10% $100,000 4.3% $203,600 48 yrs, 7 mos $485,800 583
$2,091 25.1% $100,000 4.3% $203,600 10 years $250,900 120
$833 10% $100,000 5.3% $152,600 31 yrs, 4 mos $313,000 376
$1,641 19.7% $100,000 5.3% $152,600 10 years $192,900 120
$833 10% $100,000 5.3% $237,400 NA NA NA
$1,100 13.2% $100,000 5.3% $237,400 57 yrs, 11 mos $764,200 695
$2,553 30.6% $100,000 5.3% $237,400 10 years $306,400 120
$833 10% $100,000 5.3% $203,600 NA NA NA
$1,000 12.0% $100,000 5.3% $203,600 43 yrs, 5 mos $520,800 521
$2,189 26.3% $100,000 5.3% $203,600 10 years $262,700 120

Payments for Medical and Law School Debt

Among professional degree holders, medical and law degrees are among the most commonly sought. They are also among the most expensive. The average law school debt is more than four times higher than the average undergraduate student debt but still only two-thirds of the average medical school debt. Further, the average starting salary for a new law school graduate is 15% lower than the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

  • $160,000 is the average student loan debt for a law school graduate.
  • $55,200 is the average starting salary for a law school graduate.
  • $127,000 is an average salary for an experienced attorney.
  • $188,000 is an average salary for a patent attorney.
  • $241,600 is the average student loan debt for a medical school graduate.
  • $63,200 is a first-year resident’s annual salary.
  • $174,000 is a general physician’s salary.
  • $400,000 is an anesthesiologist’s salary.
Law School Monthly Student Loan Payments ($160,000 Average Debt)
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income % APR Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$460 10% $55,200 4.3% NA NA NA
$650 14.1% $55,200 4.3% 49 yrs, 10 mos $388,400 598
$1,643 35.7% $55,200 4.3% 10 years $197,100 120
$1,058 10% $127,000 4.3% 18 yrs, 2 mos $230,900 218
$1,643 15.5% $127,000 4.3% 10 years $197,100 120
$1,567 10% $188,000 4.3% 10 yrs, 7 mos $199,600 127
$750 16.3% $55,200 5.3% 53 yrs, 11 mos $485,200 647
$1,656 36% $55,200 5.3% 10 yrs, 6 mos $209,100 126
$1,721 37.4% $55,200 5.3% 10 years $206,500 120
$1,058 10% $127,000 5.3% 20 yrs, 10 mos $264,700 250
$1,721 16.3% $127,000 5.3% 10 years $206,500 120
$1,567 10% $188,000 5.3% 11 yrs, 4 mos $213,200 136
$1,721 11% $188,000 5.3% 10 years $206,500 120
Medical School Monthly Student Loan Payments ($241,600 Average Debt)
Monthly
Payment
% of Income Income % APR Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$527 10% $63,200 4.3% NA NA NA
$1000 19% $63,200 4.3% 46 yrs, 9 mos $561,400 561
$2,481 47.1% $63,200 4.3% 10 $297,700 120
$1,450 10% $174,000 4.3% 21 yrs, 2 mos $368,500 254
$2,481 17.1% $174,000 4.3% 10 years $297,700 120
$3,330 10% $400,000 4.3% 7 yrs, 0 mos $280,300 84
$527 10% $63,200 5.3% NA NA NA
$1,100 20.9% $63,200 5.3% 66 yrs, 4 mos $875,800 796
$2,598 49.3% $63,200 5.3% 10 years $311,800 120
$1,450 10% $174,000 5.3% 25 yrs, 2 mos $438,100 302
$2,598 17.9% $174,00 5.3% 10 years $311,800 120
$3,330 10% $400,000 5.3% 7 yrs, 4 mos $291,900 88

Private Student Loan Payments

Private student loans, for the most part, come from academic institutions as well as banks and credit unions. The total amount of private student loan debt is difficult to track because little of the related data is a matter of public record.

  • 1.2% is the lowest known private student loan interest rate, available only to those with excellent credit.
  • 3.82% is the low-end private student loan interest rate for most student borrowers.
  • 14.5% is the high-end interest rate.
  • Most students owe between $20,000 and $40,000 in student loan debt.
  • 56% of indebted borrowers owe $20,000 or less in student loan
  • 34.3% of indebted student borrowers owe $10,000 or less in federal student loans.
  • 17.1% of borrowers owe less than $5,000.
  • 21.4% of borrowers owe between $10,000 and $20,000 in student loans.
  • 18.4% owe $40,000 to $100,000.
  • 7.4% owe $100,000 or more.
  • 2% owe in excess of $200,000.
Monthly Private Student Loan Payments ($64,900 Average Income)
Monthly
Payment
% of Income % APR Average
Debt
Repayment Term Ultimate
Cost
Number of
Payments
$541 10% 1.2% $15,000 2 yrs, 4 mos $15,200 28
$541 10% 1.2% $30,000 4 yrs, 9 mos $30,900 57
$541 10% 1.2% $60,000 9 yrs, 10 mos $63,600 118
$541 10% 3.82% $15,000 2 yrs, 5 mos $15,700 29
$541 10% 3.82% $30,000 5 years, 1 mos $33,100 61
$541 10% 3.82% $60,000 11 yrs, 5 mos $74,100 137
$602 11.1% 3.82% $60,000 10 years $72,300 120
$541 10% 14.5% $15,000 2 yrs, 10 mos $18,400 34
$541 10% 14.5% $30,000 7 yrs, 8 mos $49,900 92
$541 10% 14.5% $60,000 NA NA NA
$730 13.5% 14.5% $60,000 34 yrs, 7 mos $302,900 415
$950 17.6% 14.5% $60,000 10 years $114,000 120

Sources

  1. PEW Research Center, Student Loan System Presents Repayment Challenges
  2. U.S. Federal Reserve, Consumer Credit – G.19
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Learn more, Earn More: Education Leads to Higher Wages, Lower Unemployment
  4. U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office of Federal Student Aid (OFSA), Federal Student Loan Portfolio
  5. ED OFSA, The Standard Repayment Plan is the Basic Repayment Plan for Loans from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
  6. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers
  7. NCES, The Condition of Education: Loans for Undergraduate Students
  8. CNBC, College Grads Expect to Earn $60,000 in Their First Job—Here’s How Much They Actually Make
  9. National Association of Colleges and Employers, Class of 2018’s Preliminary Salary Shows Slight Drop
  10. BLS, Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator
  11. U.S. Department of Justice, Entry-Level and Experience Attorneys
  12. National Library of Medicine, Graduate Medical Education Funding Mechanisms, Challenges, and Solutions: A Narrative Review
  13. U.S. Government Accountability Office, Graduate Medical Education: Trends in Training and Student Debt
  14. Current Student Loan Interest Rates and How They Work
  15. American Institutes for Research, What’s The Value Of An
    Associate’s Degree?: The Return On Investment For Graduates And Taxpayers
  16. Monster, Best-Paying and Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees
  17. PayScale, Doctorate (PhD) Degree
  18. Forbes, College Degrees with the Highest and Lowest Starting Salaries in 2017