The federal student loan repayment calculator can tell you what you’ll owe under various repayment options, but it’s extremely limited in its functionality. That’s why I’ve build the best student loan calculator anywhere and I’m giving it away for free. This program replaces the need for dozens of different student loan calculators and summarizes everything into an easy to understand output. It acts as an interest calculator, student loan refinance calculator, REPAYE, PAYE, and IBR loan calculator, calculates payments, and more.
To get your own copy of my tool, click the button below and I’ll send over the spreadsheet to your email right away so you can find savings and save a ton of time understanding your student loans.
Finally a Tool that Dynamically Adjusts Based on Your Future Career and Family Plans
Now back to saving you money. The biggest limitation I’ve seen with student debt calculators is that they don’t reflect reality. Your income will grow over time, your family size could change, and you might get married or change jobs.
The program I’ve built dynamically adjusts for these factors, which is why it could save you thousands of dollars. Start by watching the latest updated video below to learn how it works.
I Built This Student Loan Repayment Calculator for You. Enter Your Email at the Bottom of the Page to Get It
Seriously watch the video above first so you see how it works. If you like skipping instructions, go to the bottom of the page and enter your email and you’ll get your own copy of my student loan tool in your inbox pronto.
People make all kinds of mistakes managing their student loans. They use forbearance, deferment, and stay on the Income Based Repayment when better options are available. So many borrowers fail to get the Public Service Loan Forgiveness retirement match, understand Revised Pay As Your Earn’s interest subsidy, or refinance student loans to a lower interest rate. This tool is supposed to cure these mistakes by identifying the cost of all the major student loan repayment options.
So if you want to save time calculating your monthly payments, fill in your email below. For best results that could involve $10,000 or more in savings, keep reading.
How to Start: Go to the First Tab labeled ‘Inputs’ and Enter Your Info
Once you’ve downloaded the spreadsheet, you will want to start on the ‘Inputs’ tab. I’ve pre-filled it with an example. Feel free to delete that information and enter your own in the white boxes. There are three major sections: Loan & General Info, Income Info, and Personal Info.
Loan & General Info Tab
For the Loan & General Info, the sheet needs to know the total federal debt you have in the first cell. Take a rough average of the interest rate you have across all your different loans and enter that next. We also need to use an inflation rate assumption, so I’ve pre-filled 3%. Feel free to use a different number if you like. Since the income driven repayment and PSLF options relieve your student debt after 10-25 years, you have to enter the year in which you started paying back your loans next. Finally in that section, write ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so the the calculator knows whether to model not for profit loan forgiveness.
Income Info Tab
In the Income Info section, we need to know your guess of income for you and any spouse you’re married to in a calendar year. If you’re already married, then you’d want to fill out the entire column called ‘Spouse’ with current and projected income. If you’re getting married in the future, enter their income in the year of marriage. I’ve also given a spot where you can let income grow at a set percentage after the first seven years. This income section is important because many of the major repayment options calculate your student loan repayment as a percentage of what you earn. Without adjusting for the fact that you’ll get promoted and earn more over time, the cost simulation is widely inaccurate. That’s a big reason why I felt like this calculator was necessary.
Personal Info Tab
This is the section to let the calculator know about your family size, future family plans, and tax filing status. Income driven repayment allows for a deduction for 150% of the federal poverty line, which is dependent on the number of people in your family. That’s why the info is necessary to model an accurate cost of different repayment strategies.
So first enter the current family size including you, your spouse, and any dependent children. Below that, select the filing status you expect to use when married. Filing jointly is the default setting, and you don’t need to change this if you’re single. Only if you’re considering completing your tax return with Married Filing Separately to have a lower student loan payment is this useful. Keep in mind you need to check with an accountant for the magnitude of the annual tax penalty.
Below that, enter the year(s) you think you might have a new child added to the family, if at all. Enter one year per cell. This info is important for the accurate calculation of your payments under income driven options.
Now that you’ve entered all the info, the spreadsheet has calculated everything you need to know. Here’s an example of how a completely filled out ‘Inputs’ tab could look.
Now Go to the Third Tab of the Spreadsheet Called ‘Calculations’
If you’re at the ‘Inputs’ tab, you can find the next ‘Calculations’ tab at the bottom left hand corner of the sheet. Some folks like detail and others like high level summaries. If you don’t want to know how I calculate payments and costs, skip to explanation of the output page in the next section. However, if you like to get into the weeds, the ‘Calculations’ tab shows it all. This is the tab that makes this tool equivalent to 30 calculators in one. To show how it works, let’s assume we’re looking at a borrower with $200,000 in loans at a 7% interest rate whose income grows at inflation and who earns $50,000 per year.
Student Loan Payment Calculator in Columns D to I
If you look at columns D to I, you’ll see six different repayment programs represented. I chose to analyze these six because they’re the most common. Additionally, they’re the only ones 99% of people should ever use. If you’re on something different like Graduated, Extended, ICR, or something else, you should contact me because you’re probably costing yourself money.
What are these six payment options? Technically only five exist currently. They are Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), the old Income Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), the Standard 10 Year, and private refinancing. All have different rules that determine what the monthly payment is. The sixth plan is the hypothetical Trump plan that doesn’t exist yet. When and if it does, I’ll update this article and the tool. Here’s what the section looks like below.
One big takeaway from this section is how the Standard 10 Year and private refinancing plans have the same monthly payment year after year. That’s because you’re on track to pay back the loans in a set amount of time on these plans.
Notice how the Trump plan, REPAYE, PAYE, and IBR calculate payments based on income. That means if your income grows over time, your payments will grow as well. The available tools out there do a poor job of calculating the cost of these programs as income grows over time. That’s why I wanted to include these columns so you can see a literal simulated cost of monthly payments over time.
Student Loan Repayment Calculator Showing How Loan Balance Gets Paid Down in Columns J to O
If you move over in the student loan repayment calculator to columns J to O, you’ll see the growth or shrinkage of the balance over time. Remember we’re looking at a borrower with a $50,000 income and a $200,000 student loan debt. That means the income driven options will result in a growing balance. In comparison, the Standard 10 Year and private refinancing options always result in a decreasing amount owed because you’re paying it back.
Because the different income driven repayment plans have differing percentages of income and interest subsidies, the balances grow at different rates. One of the biggest sources of anxiety for my clients is opening their statements every month while constantly watching the balance grow. At least with this calculator, you’ll have an idea of what the growth could look like.
Notice here how the REPAYE plan offers the slowest growth out of the income based options. That’s because of the REPAYE interest subsidy, which we’ll address soon. Private refinancing shows up as the most aggressive in this case because you’re paying back the loans at a lower interest rate than the Standard 10 Year plan so more goes into principal.
Student Loan Interest Calculator Shows the Finance Charges You’ll Incur Under Different Plans
Few people understand how the interest charge works with the REPAYE plan. The government applies your payment to the interest first. Then, if there is any interest leftover, the government picks up half of it. For folks making a low income relative to their debt, this is a powerful interest subsidy.
Take a look at the interest charges below for our $50,000 salary borrower with $200,000 in debt. Her payments on the income driven options do not cover interest. Luckily though, paying on REPAYE, PAYE, or IBR prevents the interest from adding to the principal. That means instead of compound interest you pay simple interest on these programs. For the Standard 10 Year Plan and private refinancing, the interest charge decreases every year since you are actually paying down the balance. Here’s an example of how the interest calculator part of the spreadsheet looks below.
Just Want an Easy to Read Summary? See the Output of the Calculator in the ‘Main Page’ Tab
This is where we summarize all the important info. If you wanted to skip the ‘Calculations’ tab, spend your time here. This highlights all the most important parts of the cost of various repayment options. Work from left to right to read the spreadsheet in its entirety. Anything in gray are assumptions that you can change.
‘Main Page’ Tab Columns B to F: Direct Costs of Student Loans
Moving from left to right, the first column to look at is the ‘Total Payments.’ This is the total dollars that you’ll spend paying back your student loans based on the info you entered in the ‘Inputs’ tab.
The next column is the ‘Remaining Balance.’ Obviously, if you use an income driven repayment plan with a large debt balance, you won’t fully repay your loans. For private sector workers, that means a huge tax payment in the year of forgiveness. One big point of failure in planning student loan repayment is not putting aside money every month to cover the tax penalty. I estimate that future tax penalty due in column D. The total nominal cost in column E adds total payments and tax penalties to show the total dollars that will leave your pocket under each repayment option.
Of course, $100,000 over 10 years isn’t the same as $100,000 over 25 years. That’s why I equalize the dollars spent under each repayment plan in column F. I use the rate of return you provide in the gray boxes on the right of the sheet to calculate these numbers.
‘Main Page’ Tab Columns G to J: More Student Loan Summary Details
Column G shows the year of full repayment or forgiveness, and Column H shows the effective interest rate on a compounded basis. Column I calculates the payment in the first month. Finally, Column J makes an approximation for how much you’ll need to save each month to cover the tax penalty in Column D.
Here’s how the summary looks below. You’ll see gray boxes to the right of this view on the ‘Main page’ tab. You can enter in different numbers there to try out different assumptions for federal and state tax rates, investment return assumptions, and private refinancing rates.
‘Main Page’ Tab Columns L to M: Enter Your Own Assumptions
I wanted readers and clients to be able to use their own assumptions to look at the cost of paying back their student loans. The main critical factors are federal and state tax rate, how much you think you’ll earn on investments over the long term, and how many years you’d take to repay your loans in full and at what interest rate with a private lender.
For that reason, I created the cells in columns L and M. Feel free to change these numbers based on your own personal characteristics like what state you live in, how risky your investment portfolio is, and how much you’re willing to put into your student loans. Additionally for private refinancing, I’d see how a shorter or longer term with varying interest late levels impacted how much I could save.
If Student Loan Refinancing Shows Up as the Cheapest Option, Get Exclusive Cash Bonuses
After entering all your info on the ‘Inputs’ tab and checking out the results on the ‘Main Page’ tab, you’ll notice different costs for the various plans. If the student loan refinancing row shows up as the cheapest option, that means I think there’s a chance you could save a lot of money by checking out offers from private lenders.
A lot of personal finance blogs and student loan focused websites embed referral links and take all of the referral bonus for themselves. I think it’s better for the reader and client to split it with you. That’s why at the bottom of the ‘Main Page’ tab, you’ll see several refinancing partners that I’ve negotiating cash bonuses with because of the volume of business Student Loan Planner sends them. You’ll get anywhere from $200-$500 AND a lower interest rate (which is the only reason to refinance student loans of course). If you decide to refinance after going through this calculator, I really appreciate it! You help me out a lot by supporting this site and keeping this tool free for others to use.
How Does the Process Work and What are the Companies You Suggest?
You can check your rate without affecting your credit score. Moreover, it only takes as little as a couple minutes. I suggest checking at several companies as you never know who will show up with the best rate. If you decide to go through with the refinancing, then your score takes a temporary hit. Even so, that’s totally worth it if you’re cutting your interest rate by 1%-3%. One time I even had a client who dropped her rate from 13% to under 3%. That result is unusual, but I see folks all the time who save thousands in interest by refinancing their loans. I highly suggest you look into it if you owe less than two times your income.
Want to check your rate without even needing to visit the calculator? Check out these awesome refinancing bonuses available to Student Loan Planner readers and clients. You won’t get them at all if you visited the website directly. Additionally, it doesn’t affect the interest rate they offer. So you should definitely check it out. If you decide to refinance thanks to this calculator please reach out and tell me. It’ll make my day that I helped another person save money.
- 2.55% - 6.49%
- Socially minded
- 2.99% - 6.99%
- Medical, dental
- 2.57% - 6.32%
- Flexible repayment
- Starts at 2.61%
- Kayak of loans
- 2.56% - 8.12%
- Local banks
- Starts at 1.95%
- NYC, CA, Boston
- 3.23% - 7.28%
- Loan min of 30k
What’s the Catch?
If I’ve created the best student debt calculator in the country, why would I give it away for free? The short answer is that many people who use this calculator hire me for an analysis on their specific loan situation. When tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake, the consult fee is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of making a student loan mistake.
In terms of qualifications, I hold the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. On top of that, I used to trade billions of dollars in bonds for a living. I bring a level of analysis to the table that nobody else does. The average student loan balance I advise is over $260,000. Moreover, I’ve advised individuals with debt loads approaching $1 million. No matter how complex your student loan situation is, I’ll be able to help.
What Can Student Loan Planner Do For Me?
The average savings I find over the life of the loan payback period is over $80,000 per person. In contrast, the cost of a consult ranges from$295 to $595. Additionally, the savings I find varies widely, from $0 to over $300,000. Probably the most common amount of savings I find over 20-25 years is about $50,000. Please verify the info I’m telling you. Check out what Student Loan Planner clients are saying on Facebook.
Many will use this calculator and not ever contact me for help, and I’m cool with that. If that’s you, please share it on social media and with your professional networks if you find it useful. If you have comments on the tool or want to learn more about how I help craft student loan strategies, contact me directly.
Enter Your Email Below and Your Free, Private, and Downloadable Calculator Will Be on the Way
If you find this spreadsheet useful, please share it so can others can benefit. I can’t wait to help you save money on your student debt, whether you use my calculator or hire me for a one on one consult. I’ve worked with dozens of dentists, doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, businesspersons, chiropractors, pharmacists, physician’s assistants, psychologists, family counselors, and more! I’d love to hear feedback on the spreadsheet as well, so don’t be shy. Thanks for trusting me to help with your student debt!