Repayment Estimator Walkthrough


The Department of Education runs this great website - Apart from offering all the information you would ever need (or want) to know about student loans, it also hosts a fantastic online calculator - the Student Loan Repayment Estimator. It has been such a great tool that I have been telling all of medical students to check out the site. However, I keep getting back a lot more blank stares than I anticipate. So let's do a quick walkthrough of this amazing free tool.

Step 1 - Head to the Repayment Estimator. You will be able to either login to view your personal loan information or add your loan information manually by proceeding without logging in.

Step 2 - Since you already know all about my student loan situation from my quarterly net worth updates, I've decided to login and proceed using my actual loan information.  In Box 1, your loan information should be populated.  If you chose to enter your information manually, you will add your loans here.

Step 3 - Enter your tax filing status in Box 2 (Single, Married filing jointly, Married filing separately, or Head of household) and your income situation in Box 3. This information will be used to compute whether you have a partial financial hardship in order to qualify for one of the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. You will also have the option to check your payment estimates under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. I've made up some numbers here for demo purposes.

Step 4 - Once you're ready, press "Calculate Results" and the program will spit out all of the payment options you have at your disposal in Box 4. The program makes some assumptions about your loans and income which you can read about here.

If you are more visually inclined, you can get the results in a graphical display. Personally I like the table format more appealing.

Bottom line - For most medical trainees, the repayment estimator will take away hours of agonizing over repayment plan options with just a few minutes of work.  Even if you are already on a particular repayment plan, the repayment estimator will allow you to compare with other repayment options.  I highly recommend it.

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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.