Preparing For Repayment

Knowing your borrowing options is just the beginning of navigating the world of educational loans. Repayment entails an entirely new set of terms, conditions, and processes to understand. Review this topic page to prepare for your upcoming payment responsibilities. 

Whether you are taking a leave of absence or nearing graduation, a change in your student status means loan repayment is coming. Before your payments begin, there will be important information to determine such as who will collect your payments, when will payments begin, and what kinds of repayment plan options will be available to you.

Getting started

Before you enter into repayment, consider the following:

Whether you only borrowed for your last year of school, or have been relying on student loans throughout your entire academic experience, keeping track of all the loans you will need to repay can be challenging.

There are two ways you can get an overview of what you have borrowed:

  • Log on to your DukeHub account and click “My Loans” under the Financials tab. Review each of the academic year statements to see the different types of loans and the amounts you had accepted.
  • Pull your credit report 
    • Keep in mind: You are eligible to review your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Learn more about credit by visiting our Credit topic page.

Perhaps the most important step in preparing for student loan repayment is knowing what your monthly payment will be and how long it will take you to pay off the balance of your loan.

Unfortunately, most lenders and servicers will not provide you with the monthly dollar amount until your repayment period officially begins.

However, there are several useful resources that can provide you with a reliable estimate to help you plan for your payments:

You will need your loan totals and interest rates to use these calculators, as well as what repayment plan options you have available to you. If you are working with a private or alternative loan, you will most likely be expected to pay 120 payments in total, for a 10-year time span. For individuals with Federal Direct Loans, your repayment terms could take anywhere from 10-25 years to fulfill.

REMEMBER: For all unsubsidized loans borrowed, interest has been accruing on the loan starting at its disbursement to your student account. If you have not been paying interest on your loan while in school, any amount of interest remaining at the time of repayment will be CAPITALIZED or added to the principal. All payments moving forward will assess interest based on this new, combined amount. In short, you will now be paying interest on top of previously accrued interest.

Submitting payments towards your loan can be done online through either the lender's website or the servicer's website, depending on the type of loan you have. To verify who you will make payments to, talk to your lender. If you have a federal student loan, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center and ask who your loan servicer is: 1-800-433-3243. 

Many of the servicers for federal student loans also have the option to pay via mobile app. Check your servicer’s website or your smart device’s app store to see if they offer a mobile platform.

Though servicers still accept check payments through the mail, a majority of student loan payments are done through direct drafts from personal checking accounts. If you are accustomed to making payments to rental properties and utility companies, or even for subscription and streaming services, the process for making a student loan payment should appear familiar.

Federal Loans

To see which servicer your federal student loans are assigned to, you will need to log in to your account on https://studentaid.gov/ using your FSA ID and password, the same one you would have used to complete the FAFSA when you applied for your loan. 

Once you are in your account, you should see an overview of your loans and which servicer you have been assigned to. In the event you have trouble determining who your servicer is, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center: 1-800-433-3243

Institutional Loans 

For loans borrowed from Duke University, including Duke Educational Assistance Loans and Perkins Loans, the servicer assigned to your account is Heartland ECSI. To access your account and make payments, visit Heartland ECSI.

If you have trouble logging in, contact the Office of Student Loans and Personal Finance 

Private Loans

For any private or alternative loans borrowed, be sure to review the lender’s website and read over any communications that you received to determine if you will be working with a third-party servicer or with the lender directly.

Did You Know? Some lenders offer a .25% interest rate deduction if you enroll in auto payments. If this is an offer you would like to consider, speak with your servicer.  Be sure to know your banking information before enrolling. 

While it does not happen often, servicing agencies can resign from their positions and transfer duties to a new organization. During servicer transfers, borrowers should receive multiple communications from both their current servicer and their newly assigned servicer alerting them to the upcoming change. To prepare for a servicer transfer, borrowers should ensure they can navigate the new servicer's site, have access to their loan information, and update their payment method if using an auto-pay feature. It is also important to review past account activity and create a detailed record of payment history in the event a processing error occurs during the transfer. 

If you are faced with a servicer transfer, do what you can to stay organized and proactively prepare for the transition. 


Federal Loan Simulator

Looking to simulate federal borrowing totals or view payment plan options and estimate monthly amounts for when your loans enter into repayment? Try out the Loan Simulator tool on studentaid.gov!

Link to Loan Simulator