Main Content

Federal Direct Stafford Loan Repayment

Students have a six month grace period before repayment begins after you graduate, or drop below half-time enrollment. Students are entitled to receive a repayment schedule prior to the payment due date. Upon completion of loan repayment, students will receive a letter of acknowledgment from the U.S. Department of Education.

Repayment Options

When it comes time to start repaying your student loan(s), you can select a repayment plan that is right for your financial situation. Generally, you will have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan you choose. For a list of repayment options, go to

Forbearance and Deferment Options

If you are temporarily unable to meet your repayment obligation, you may be granted a forbearance, which lets you postpone or reduce your payments for an agreed upon period of time. You will still be responsible for any interest that accrues during the forbearance period, but you may be able to pay it later. A deferment is a temporary suspension of loan payments for specific situations such as reenrollment in school, unemployment, or economic hardship. In most cases, you need to submit a deferment request to the Direct Loan Servicing Center. A deferment can take 30 days or more to process, so file as soon as possible. You must keep making your payments until you receive notice that your deferment has been approved. For more information on forbearance and deferment, visit

If you don't repay your loan. . .

Delinquencies, or a monthly payment more than 30 days late, are reported to credit bureaus. This can hurt your chances for obtaining loans in the future, for cars, a home, etc. Also you may lose eligibility for further financial aid, deferments and forbearances until the delinquency is cleared up. Default occurs when there is no payment made for 270 days. In the event you go into default on your loan, be aware of the following penalties:

  • A bad credit report
  • Assignment of loan to a collection agency
  • Full balance of loan is due (no more monthly payment privileges)
  • Loss of eligibility for future financial aid (this includes grants)
  • Withholding of state and federal income tax refunds and California lottery winnings
  • Late fees and collection costs may be applied toward the amount you owe
  • Your wages may be garnished (a portion withheld for repayment)

Tips to make your repayment easier

  • Get organized. Make a single student loan file for all your loan documents, information and payment records. You may want to keep this Tip Sheet in your file as a reference.
  • Read your mail. Important notices about your loan, will come by mail. Open and read these notices immediately, and respond or file them, as appropriate.
  • Notify the U.S. Department of Education if you change your name or address. You should also contact the Department of Education if you decide to return to school at least half time.
  • Know who services your loan. The Department of Education contracts with servicing agents to collect payments and otherwise administer student loans. It is up to you to keep track of your servicing agent.
  • Contact the Department of Education if you are having problems making your payment on time toinquire about payment options.
  • Write your loan account number on all loan-related correspondence and checks. Keep copies of all correspondence.
  • Expect a letter of acknowledgment from the U.S. Department of Education upon making the final payment on your loan(s).
  • Take notes of your phone conversations with the loan holder or servicer, i.e., whom you spoke with, what was discussed.etc. Keep this information in your loan file.