**Report Highlights.** The average monthly student loan payment is an estimated **$460** based on previously recorded average payments and median average salaries among college graduates.

- The average borrower takes
**20 years**to repay their student loan debt. - The average student loan accrues
**$26,000**in interest alone over 20 years (at the rounded*average interest rate of 6%*). - Up to
**67.1%**of the average borrower’s total cost of repayment is generated interest.

Related reports include Average Time to Repay Student Loans | Student Loan Debt Statistics | Average Student Loan Interest Rate | Student Loan Default Rate

## 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.

- In 2016, the average student loan payment was $393.
- Adjusted for inflation, this is the equivalent of $461.
- In 2005, the average student loan payment was $227; adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $331.
- 10% of your gross income (GI) should go toward paying off debts according to federal guidelines.[1]
- $461 monthly payments are equivalent to 10% of a $55,320 annual income; $393 monthly payments are 10% of $47,160.
- 36% of income is the maximum amount that should go toward paying off debt according to the same federal guidelines.
- $461 monthly payments are equivalent to 36% of a $15,370 annual GI; $393 monthly payments are equivalent to 36% of $13,100.
- The mean starting salary among all new graduates is $55,800.
- 10% of the mean starting salary is $465.
- Financial experts and the federal government list 10 years as the ideal timeline for paying off undergraduate student loan debt.[2]
- The most commonly used federal student loans have an interest rate closer to 3%.
- The average federal student loan debt per borrower is $37,693.
- Among private student loan borrowers, the average debt is $54,921.
- Overall, the average debt per borrower is $39,351.
- 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 Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|

$30,000 | 5 yrs, 10 mos | $32,800 |

$37,693 | 7 yrs, 7 mos | $42,175 |

$39,351 | 8 years | $44,703 |

$54,921 | 11 ys, 8 mos | $65,171 |

$48,156 | 10 years | $55,800 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$290 | 6.2% | $30,000 | $34,800 |

$364 | 7.8% | $37,693 | $43,676 |

$380 | 8.2% | $39,351 | $45,597 |

$530 | 11.4% | $54,921 | $63,639 |

### 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 | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$354 | 10% | $29,500 | 7 yrs, 9 mos | $32,800 |

$393 | 11.1% | $29,500 | 6 yrs, 10 mos | $32,400 |

$393 | 11.1% | $35,000 | 8 yrs, 4 mos | $39,200 |

$393 | 11.1% | $45,300 | 11 yrs, 2 mos | $52,700 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$393 | 9% | $29,500 | 6 yrs, 10 mos | $32,400 |

$433 | 10% | $29,500 | 6 yrs, 2 mos | $32,100 |

$433 | 10% | $35,000 | 7 yrs, 6 mos | $38,800 |

$433 | 10% | $45,300 | 10 yrs | $51,900 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$393 | 7% | $29,500 | 6 yrs, 10 mos | $32,400 |

$541 | 10% | $29,500 | 4 yrs, 10 mos | $31,500 |

$541 | 10% | $35,000 | 5 yrs, 10 mos | $37,900 |

$541 | 10% | $45,300 | 7 yrs, 9 mos | $50,400 |

### 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.

Monthly Payment | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$281 | $17,800 | 5 yrs, 9 mos | $19,300 |

$281 | $28,300 | 9 yrs, 7 mos | $32,200 |

$281 | $30,100 | 10 yrs, 3 mos | $34,600 |

Monthly Payment | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$384 | $17,800 | 4 yrs, 1 mo | $18,800 |

$384 | $28,300 | 6 yrs, 9 mos | $31,000 |

$384 | $30,100 | 7 yrs, 3 mos | $33,200 |

### 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.
- A low-end salary for a graduate degree holder has $42,000 GI.
- An average salary is for a professional degree holder, who can make over $100,000.

#### Master’s Student Loan Payments

- $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.

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$350 |
10% | $58,300 | 21 yrs, 2 mos | $88,900 |

$350 | 10% | $77,000 | 36 yrs, 2 mos | $151,900 |

$350 | 10% | $96,700 | 107 yrs, 4 mos | $450,800 |

$599 |
17.1% | $58,300 | 10 years | $71,800 |

$791 |
22.6% | $77,000 | 10 years | $94,900 |

$993 |
28% | $96,700 | 10 years | $119,100 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$648 | 10% | $58,300 | 9 yrs, 1 mo | $70,500 |

$648 | 10% | $96,700 | 17 yrs, 10 mos | $138,600 |

$648 | 10% | $58,300 | 9 yrs, 7 mos | $74,500 |

$648 | 10% | $77,000 | 12 yrs, 11 mos | $100,500 |

$791 | 12.2% | $77,000 | 10 years | $94,900 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$350 | 10% | $58,300 | 25 yrs, 2 mos | $105,700 |

$350 | 10% | $77,000 | 67 yrs, 5 mos | $283,000 |

$350 | 10% | $96,700 | NA† | NA |

$430 |
12.3% | $96,700 | 94 yrs, 6 mos | $487,500 |

$627 |
17.9% | $58,300 | 10 years | $75,200 |

$828 |
23.7% | $58,300 | 10 years | $99,400 |

$1,040 |
29.7% | $96,700 | 10 years | $124,800 |

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

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$648 | 10% | $77,000 | 14 yrs, 1 mo | $109,400 |

$648 | 10% | $96,700 | 20 yrs, 4 mos | $158,200 |

$828 | 12.8% | $77,000 | 10 years | $99,400 |

$993 | 15.3% | $77,000 | 10 years | $119,100 |

$1,039 | 16% | $96,700 | 10 years | $124,800 |

#### Professional & Doctorate Student Loan Payments

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.

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$575 | 10% | $98,700 | 22 yrs, 3 mos | $153,500 |

$575 | 10% | $100,700 | 23 yrs, 0 mos | $158,800 |

$575 | 10% | $171,400 | NA | NA |

$623 | 10.8% | $171,400 | 99 yrs, 2 mos | $741,600 |

$1,014 | 17.6% | $98,700 | 10 years | $121,600 |

$1,034 | 18.0% | $100,700 | 10 years | $124,100 |

$1,760 | 30.6% | $171,400 | 10 years | $211,20 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$843 | 10% | $98,700 | 12 yrs, 8 mos | $128,200 |

$843 | 10% | $100,700 | 13 yrs, 0 mos | $131,700 |

$843 | 10% | $171,400 | 30 yrs, 5 mos | $307,300 |

$1,014 | 12.0% | $98,700 | 10 years | $121,600 |

$1,034 | 12.3% | $100,700 | 10 years | $124,100 |

$1,760 | 20.9% | $171,400 | 10 years | $211,200 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$575 | 10% | $98,700 | 26 yrs, 10 mos | $185,200 |

$575 | 10% | $100,700 | 28 yrs, 1 mo | $193,800 |

$575 | 10% | $171,400 | NA | NA |

$761 | 13.2% | $171,400 | 99 yrs, 4 mos | $907,000 |

$1,061 | 18.5% | $98,700 | 10 years | $127,400 |

$1,083 | 18.8% | $100,700 | 10 years | $129,900 |

$1,844 | 32.1% | $171,400 | 10 years | $221,200 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$843 | 10% | $98,700 | 13 yrs, 9 mos | $139,300 |

$843 | 10% | $100,700 | 14 yrs, 2 mos | $143,400 |

$843 | 10% | $171,400 | 43 yrs, 2 mos | $436,700 |

$1,061 | 12.6% | $98,700 | 10 years | $127,400 |

$1,083 | 12.9% | $100,700 | 10 years | $129,900 |

$1,844 | 21.9% | $171,400 | 10 years | $221,200 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$521 | 10% | $152,600 | NA | NA |

$555 | 11% | $152,600 | 71 yrs, 11 mos | $494,300 |

$800 | 15.4% | $203,600 | 56 yrs, 7 mos | $543,500 |

$880 | 17% | $237,400 | 79 yrs, 3 mos | $836,900 |

$1,567 | 30% | $152,600 | 10 years | $188,000 |

$1,875 | 36% | $237,400 | 14 yrs, 1 mo | $316,900 |

$1,875 | 36% | $203,600 | 11 yrs, 6 mos | $258,300 |

$2,091 | 40.1% | $203,600 | 10 years | $250,900 |

$2,438 | 48.7% | $237,400 | 10 years | $292,500 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$833 | 10% | $152,600 | 24 yrs, 11 mos | $248,800 |

$833 | 10% | $203,600 | 48 yrs, 7 mos | $485,800 |

$833 | 10% | $237,400 | NA | NA |

$900 | 10.8% | $237,400 | 67 yrs, 8 mos | $730,700 |

$1,567 | 18.8% | $152,600 | 10 years | $188,022 |

$2,091 | 25.1% | $203,600 | 10 years | $250,900 |

$2,438 | 29.3% | $237,400 | 10 years | $292,500 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$700 | 13.4% | $152,600 | 62 yrs, 3 mos | $523,000 |

$1,000 | 19.2% | $203,600 | 43 yrs, 5 mos | $520,800 |

$1,060 | 20.4% | $237,400 | 85 yrs, 7 mos | $1,088,400 |

$1,641 | 31.5% | $152,600 | 10 years | $196,900 |

$1,875 | 36% | $203,600 | 12 yrs, 4 mos | $277,900 |

$1,875 | 36% | $237,400 | 15 yrs, 6 mos | $348,500 |

$2,189 | 42% | $203,600 | 10 years | $262,700 |

$2,553 | 49.0% | $237,400 | 10 years | $306,400 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$833 | 10% | $152,600 | 31 yrs, 4 mos | $313,000 |

$833 | 10% | $203,600 | NA | NA |

$833 | 10% | $237,400 | NA | NA |

$1,000 | 12.0% | $203,600 | 43 yrs, 5 mos | $520,800 |

$1,100 | 13.2% | $237,400 | 57 yrs, 11 mos | $764,200 |

$1,641 | 19.7% | $152,600 | 10 years | $192,900 |

$2,189 | 26.3% | $203,600 | 10 years | $262,700 |

$2,553 | 30.6% | $237,400 | 10 years | $306,400 |

#### Payments for Medical School Debt

Among professional degree holders, medical and law degrees are among the most commonly sought. They are also among the most expensive.

- $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.

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$527 | 10% | NA | NA |

$1000 | 19% | 46 yrs, 9 mos | $561,400 |

$2,481 | 47.1% | 10 | $297,700 |

‡*The average medical school debt is $241,600; the average salary for a first-year resident is $63,200.*

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$527 | 10% | NA | NA |

$1,100 | 20.9% | 66 yrs, 4 mos | $875,800 |

$2,598 | 49.3% | 10 years | $311,800 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | % APR | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$1,450 | 10% | 4.3% | 21 yrs, 2 mos | $368,500 |

$2,481 | 17.1% | 4.3% | 10 years | $297,700 |

$1,450 | 10% | 5.3% | 25 yrs, 2 mos | $438,100 |

$2,598 | 17.9% | 5.3% | 10 years | $311,800 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | % APR | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$3,330 | 10% | 4.3% | 7 yrs, 0 mos | $280,300 |

$3,330 | 10% | 5.3% | 7 yrs, 4 mos | $291,900 |

#### Payments for Law School Debt

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. 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.

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$460 | 10% | NA | NA |

$650 | 14.1% | 49 yrs, 10 mos | $388,400 |

$1,643 | 35.7% | 10 years | $197,100 |

¶*The average law school debt is $160,000; the average starting salary for new law school graduates is $55,200.*

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|

$750 | 16.3% | 53 yrs, 11 mos | $485,200 |

$1,656 | 36% | 10 yrs, 6 mos | $209,100 |

$1,721 | 37.4% | 0 years | $206,500 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | % APR | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$1,058 | 10% | 4.3% | 18 yrs, 2 mos | $230,900 |

$1,643 | 15.5% | 4.3% | 10 years | $197,100 |

$1,058 | 10% | 5.3% | 20 yrs, 10 mos | $264,700 |

$1,721 | 16.3% | 5.3% | 10 years | $206,500 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | % APR | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$1,567 | 10% | 4.3% | 10 yrs, 7 mos | $199,600 |

$1,567 | 10% | 5.3% | 11 yrs, 4 mos | $213,200 |

$1,721 | 11% | 5.3% | 10 years | $206,500 |

#### 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.
- The average income among private borrowers is $64,900.

Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|

$15,000 | 2 yrs, 4 mos | $15,200 |

$30,000 | 4 yrs, 9 mos | $30,900 |

$60,000 | 9 yrs, 10 mos | $63,600 |

◊*A $64,900 annual GI is $5,408.33 monthly, 10% of which is $540.83 or a rounded $541.*

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$541 | 10% | $15,000 | 2 yrs, 5 mos | $15,700 |

$541 | 10% | $30,000 | 5 years, 1 mos | $33,100 |

$541 | 10% | $60,000 | 11 yrs, 5 mos | $74,100 |

$602 | 11.1% | $60,000 | 10 years | $72,300 |

Monthly Payment | % of Income | Average Debt | Repayment Term | Ultimate Cost |
---|---|---|---|---|

$541 | 10% | $15,000 | 2 yrs, 10 mos | $18,400 |

$541 | 10% | $30,000 | 7 yrs, 8 mos | $49,900 |

$541 | 10% | $60,000 | NA | NA |

$730 | 13.5% | $60,000 | 34 yrs, 7 mos | $302,900 |

$950 | 17.6% | $60,000 | 10 years | $114,000 |

### Sources

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