Whenever you use loan funds to pay for education, you are required to repay them according to the terms set forth in your master promissory note (MPN). Even if you did not complete or are not happy with your education, you must repay any loan funds. Always read all communications from your federal loan servicer(s). If you do not understand something, visit Financial Aid for help and be sure to bring the correspondence with you. 

If you do not know which servicer(s) hold your loan(s), you can visit the National Student Loan Data System. Use your FSA user ID and password  to gain access to your record there. Your record lists all of the Title IV federal loans (including Perkins) you have received during your education. If you click on the number at the beginning of each line, you can learn more about each loan, including status, servicer, outstanding principal balance and unpaid interest. Note that this information can be as much as 40 days old (see "as of" date). To see current information, you must visit each servicer. Be sure to check each loan with an outstanding balance as sometimes your servicers may be different.

Create login and passwords for each servicer to gain access to your up-to-date information. Sign up for electronic communications so that your servicer can contact you via email. You can also handle most required notices via their websites. Remember you must notify them whenever you change:

  • enrollment status to less than half-time
  • your address
  • your name
  • your employer

Learn more about your responsibilities

The federal government offers a variety of repayment plans to help you stay on track with repayment. Determining which repayment plan is best for you depends on various factors at different stages in your life. As a student, you may need to use the deferment and have interest accrue separately, or you could chose to pay interest while enrolled. When you are first out of school, finding that new employment position, moving and getting settled, you may need lower payments after your initial grace period expires. 

Options for repayment include:

  • Standard repayment: Paying off loans within 10 years of end of the grace period
  • Graduated repayment: Lower monthly payments during the first year or so of repayment, which gradually increase to amortize the loan over a 10-year period
  • Extended repayment: Fixed or graduated monthly payment over an extended period of time, up to 25 years, depending on amount borrowed
  • Income contingent repayment (ICR): Available for Direct loans only; monthly payment is based on amount earned annually with an annual adjustment
  • Income-based repayment (IBR): Available for either Federal Family Educational Loan Program loans or Direct loans; based on annual earnings with payments adjusted annually and forgiveness after 20 years

The AAMC offers a great comparison of repayment scenarios under their FIRST program. The comparison is based on $170,000 total debt and shows the impact of various repayment options. 

Repayment calculators are available online. There are separate calculators for ICR and IBR

Loan forgiveness programs, which may assist in covering part or all of your education debt, include (but are not limited to):

Income-based or income contingent loan repayment options both have forgiveness components as well.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness may be available for any borrower who works for a local, state or federal government agency, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or certain other eligible nonprofit organizations. While working full-time (or a combination of eligible part-time positions), the borrower must make 120 on-time monthly payments under standard repayment or as part of one of the income-based repayment plans. After completing 120 months of work while making 120 on-time payments, the borrower may file the application to have remaining debt forgiven. Find more information about this program from MyFedLoan.org, the federal servicer under contract to oversee PSLF. 

Only Direct loans are eligible for forgiveness. If a borrower has loans under the earlier Federal Family Educational Loan Program, he or she may complete a Direct Federal Consolidation Loan to bring them under the William D. Ford Direct Loan program. Only payments made since October 1, 2007 on Direct loans may count towards forgiveness.

Though we hope you and your family never need this federal benefit, the Federal Family Education Loan Program and the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS) offer forgiveness for death or total disability.

Virginia State Loan Repayment is a federally-funded program managed by the Virginia Department of Health and the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity that offers repayment assistance for educational loans in exchange for service in a health professional shortage area in Virginia. A wide variety of healthcare professionals are eligible to apply for VA-SLRP, including primary care physicians in a variety of disciplines, physician assistants, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pharmacists and more.

Consolidation may not be for everyone. After you complete your program, you may wish to consider whether consolidation is right for you. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have multiple loan servicers? 
  • Are you better able to manage repayment with one payment to one servicer? 
  • Do you need to extend repayment? 

When considering consolidation, remember that you should always use a federal consolidation loan with your federal education loans in order to preserve certain forbearance and deferment rights and disability or death benefits. Most federal education loans can be consolidated using the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. (The exception is the Primary Care Loan, which carries a service requirement.)

The consolidation process combines all of your federal loans under a single new promissory note. The interest rate on the consolidation loan will be a weighted average of the rates of each prior loan, rounded up 1/8 of a percent. A weighted average means that they look not only at the interest rate of each loan, but also how much you have borrowed at each rate. 

Make certain that all federal loans you wish to consolidate are included in your application. After you complete the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and promissory note, you have 180 days to include any loans that may have been overlooked by you or the consolidation process. You should check your loan servicer(s) website at 30 and 60 days to confirm that all federal loans you thought included show a zero outstanding balance. 

Sign into studentloans.gov using your FAFSA PIN and look for the link on the left, under repayment, that says "complete Direct Consolidation Loan." You must complete the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan application and promissory note process in a single session. The session should take you about 30 minutes to complete.

You will be asked to choose a repayment plan. You should understand the details of the available repayment plans before you make a selection. General repayment plan information is available online.

What's next?

Through your completion of the free Federal Direct Consolidation Loan application and promissory note, you will confirm the loans that you want to consolidate and agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan. Once the consolidation is complete, you will have a single monthly payment on the new Direct Consolidation Loan instead of multiple monthly payments on the loans you consolidated.

Application steps

  • Review and select loans for consolidation and then choose the federal loan servicer you want to complete the consolidation and service your new Direct Consolidation Loan.
  • Select your repayment plan.
  • Read the Direct Consolidation Loan terms and conditions.
  • Enter your personal and reference information.
  • Review, electronically sign and submit the completed Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note.

More Direct Consolidation Loan information is available online. If you have questions about consolidating your federal education loans before you apply, you can also contact the Loan Consolidation Information Call Center at 1-800-557-7392.

To discuss your consolidation options and whether or not it is right for you, contact EVMS Financial Aid for an appointment by phone at 757.446.5804 or by email at finaid@evms.edu.