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REPAYE vs. PAYE vs. IBR: How these repayment plans stack up

PAYE might be the way to go unless you have older loans or a higher income.

Updated

Fact checked
The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan is generally a better deal than both the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) and Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plans if you’re a low-income borrower with loans issued after 2011.

Have older loans? Think your income will get too high to benefit? Then consider one of the other two options.

How these federal repayment plans compare

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Repayment Plan Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
Best for... Student borrowers who are single and paying off undergraduate debt in a low-paying field Student borrowers with a high debt-to-income ratio who are either single or married and file taxes separately Student borrowers looking for income-driven repayments on FFEL Loans that haven’t been consolidated
Eligible loans
  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans — can't include Direct or FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans*
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans*
  • FFEL Graduate PLUS Loans*
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans* — can't include FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans*

*Only qualify if consolidated with a Direct Consolidation Loan.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans — can't include Direct or FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans*
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans*
  • FFEL Graduate PLUS Loans*
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans* — can't include FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans*

*Only qualify if consolidated with a Direct Consolidation Loan.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans — can't include Direct or FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • FFEL Graduate PLUS Loans
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans — can't include FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans*

*Only qualify if consolidated with a Direct Consolidation Loan.

How much you pay
  • 10% of your monthly discretionary income
  • 10% of your monthly discretionary income — never more than what you’d pay on the Standard Repayment Plan
  • 10% or 15% of your monthly discretionary income — depending on when your loan was first issued
  • Never more than what you'd pay on the Standard Repayment Plan
Repayment Term
  • 20 years on undergraduate loans
  • 25 years on graduate loans
  • 20 years
  • 20 or 25 years — depending on when your loan was first issued
Eligibility requirements
  • Eligible loans
  • Eligible loans
  • High-enough debt-to-income ratio that repayments are lower than what they'd be on the Standard Repayment Plan
  • Direct Loans disbursed after September 30, 2011
  • No outstanding federal student debt as of October 1, 2007
  • Eligible loans
  • High-enough debt-to-income ratio that repayments are lower than what they'd be on the Standard Repayment Plan
Eligible for forgiveness at the end of the term
Eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Required to reapply each year

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pros
  • Repayments adjust with your income
  • No age limits for eligible loans
  • Repayments adjust with your income
  • Cap on monthly repayments
  • Same term for all loans
  • Spousal income won't count if you file taxes separately
  • Repayments adjust with your income
  • Cap on monthly repayments
  • Spousal income won't count if you file taxes separately
Cons
  • More expensive for married couples
  • No cap on monthly repayments
  • Longer term for graduate student borrowers
  • More paperwork annually
  • Age limits for eligible loans
  • Joint tax returns mean higher repayments
  • More paperwork annually
  • Not open to parent borrowers
  • Longer term and higher monthly repayments for older loans
  • More paperwork annually
Learn more
Learn more
Learn more

Read our guide to student loan repayment plans to learn about all of your options.

Interested in refinancing instead? Compare your options

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
Full balance of your qualified education loans
2.25% to 6.09%
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing (Variable Rate)
620
$300,000
2.27% to 7.49%
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
1.99% to 9.24%
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
Splash Financial Student Loan Refinancing
650
None
1.89% to 6.66%
Save on your student loans with this market-leading newcomer.
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing
680
None
2.39% to 6.01%
Lower your student debt costs with manageable payments, affordable rates and flexible terms.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing
650
$500,000
1.99% to 5.64%
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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