Average Student Loan Payment

Last Updated: June 20, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Report Highlights. The average monthly student loan payment is $393. Lump sum payments are rare and usually only happen in cases of default or bankruptcy.

  • 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

Grouped Bar Graph: Averag Monthly Student Loan Payments by Degree, associate's to profssional, lowest low end $281, highest high end $2,553

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 your gross income (GI) should go toward paying off debts according to federal guidelines.[1]
  • $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.
  • Financial experts and the federal government list 10 years as the ideal timeline for paying off undergraduate student loan debt.[2]
  • The mean starting salary for among all new graduates is $55,800.
  • 10% of the mean starting salary is $465.
  • The most commonly used federal student loans have an interest rate closer to 3%.
  • 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 New Graduate’s Loan Payments (3% APR, $55,800 GI)
Monthly Payment % of Income Average Debt Repayment Term Ultimate Cost
$465 10% $30,000 5 yrs, 10 mos $32,800
$290 6.2% $30,000 10 years $34,800
$465 10% $48,156 10 years $55,800
Average Student Loan Payments on a $47,160 GI (3% APR)
Monthly Payment % of Income Average Debt Repayment Term Ultimate Cost
$393 10% $40,700 10 years $47,160
$393 10% $30,000 7 yrs, 1 mo $33,300
$290 7.3% $30,000 10 years $34,800

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

Average Payments on a Low-End Starting Salary (2.75% APR, $42,500 GI)
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
Payments on a Mid-Range Starting Salary (2.75% APR, $52,000 GI)
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
Payments on a High-End Starting Salary (2.75% APR, $64,900 GI)
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.
Associate’s Student Loan Payments, 10% of $33,800 GI
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
Associate’s Student Loan Payments, 10% of $46,100 GI
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.
Student Loan Payments on a Low-End Salary (4.3% APR, $42,000 GI)
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
Student Loan Payments on an Average Salary (4.3% APR, $77,800 GI)
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
Student Loan Payments on a Low-End Salary (5.3% APR, $42,000 GI)
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.

Student Loan Payments on a Low-End Salary (5.3% APR, $77,800 GI)
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.
Payments on a Doctorate’s Low-End Salary (4.3% APR, $69,000 GI)
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
Payments on a Doctorate’s Average Salary (4.3% APR, $101,100 GI)
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
Payments on a Doctorate’s Low-End Salary (5.3% APR, $69,000 GI)
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
Payments on a Doctorate’s Average Salary (5.3% APR, $101,100 GI)
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
Payments on a Professional’s Low-End Salary (4.3% APR, $62,500 GI)
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
Payments on a Professional’s Average Salary (4.3% APR, $100K GI)
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
Payments on a Professional’s Low-End Salary (5.3% APR, $62,500 GI)
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
Payments on a Professional’s Average Salary (5.3% APR, $100K GI)
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.
Payments on a First-Year Resident’s Salary‡ (4.3% APR)
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.

Payments on a First-Year Resident’s Salary (5.3% APR)
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
Payments on a General Physicians’s Salary ($174K)
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
Payments on an Anesthesiologist’s Salary ($400K)
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.
Payments on a Lawyer’s Starting Salary¶ (4.3% APR)
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.

Payments on a Lawyer’s Starting Salary (5.3% APR)
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
Payments on an Experienced Lawyer’s Salary ($127K GI)
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
Payments on a Patent Attorney’s Salary ($188K GI)
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.
Private Student Loans Payments◊ at the Lowest Possible APR (1.2%)
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.

Private Student Loan Payments at a Low-End APR (3.82%)
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
Private Student Loan Payments at a High-End APR (14.5%)
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

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