Repaying Student Loans

If you have graduated or stopped attending Columbia College, it is time to start repaying student loans. We’ve provided information and links to resources that will help.

You are required to start repaying your Federal Direct Loan six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time attendance. Your parents are required to begin repaying PLUS loans 60 days after the loans are fully disbursed, however they may request a deferment.

Information about your federal education loans is available through the Federal loans, including FFEL and Direct Loans, PLUS loans and Perkins Loans, are available through this system. Please note that any private loan will not appear in this database.

If you find yourself unable to manage student loans, contact your lenders to let them know your circumstances. In most cases, mutually beneficial arrangements can be made. Do not simply stop making payments.

Payment Relief

In special circumstances, you can postpone paying back your loans through deferment. During deferment periods, interest does not accrue. If you are enrolled at least half-time in a postsecondary school or graduate fellowship, you may qualify for deferment. If you are in a rehabilitation program for disabilities, you may qualify for deferment. If you are unemployed, you may be able to get determent up to three years.

If you don’t qualify for a government-approved deferment, you may request forbearance from your lender. This can delay or reduce your monthly payments. However, you must still pay the interest on your loan during the deferment period.

Loan Forgiveness

If you teach elementary or secondary school, you may be eligible for special deferment options. In some cases, you may be eligible for cancellation of a portion of your student loan debt. The U.S. Department of Education has more information.

Individuals who enter and work full-time in public sector jobs may apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

To discuss deferring or canceling Federal Direct loans, contact your loan servicer for application forms. Contact information is available through

To discuss deferring or canceling a Perkins loan you borrowed at Columbia College, forms are available from University Accounting Service. If you borrowed Perkins loans at another school, contact that school.

It’s possible to have your student loan debt canceled or reduced under certain specific circumstances.

Loan Consolidation

Consolidating all of your education loans lets you have one monthly payment. It generally allows you to extend the repayment period beyond 10 years.

Federal consolidation loans:

  • Fixed interest rate based on a weighted average of the current rates on your existing loans
  • Deferment options are predetermined by federal regulations
  • Cannot include private loan funds

Private consolidation loans

  • Can include federal and private loan funds, however this is not recommended because federal loans offer lower interest rates 
  • Usually a variable interest rate based on your credit score
  • Forbearance is available only at the lender’s discretion

Please note that any consolidation loan is likely going to significantly increase the total amount of interest that you will be required to pay. If you are meeting your currently monthly repayment obligations, it may be best to avoid consolidation.

You can estimate the amount you can afford to pay, based on your monthly income, using the FinAid Calculator.

Repayment plans


You can pick from repayment plans that base your monthly payment on your income or that give you a fixed monthly payment over a set repayment period.

Examples of monthly and total payments on original loans using different repayment plans:

Repayment plan $5,000 loan $20,000 loan $50,000 loan
Standard $58 $230 $575
Graduated $33-100 $133-398 $332-996
Income-based contingent $35-50 $140-202 $225-572
Standard total $6,905 $27,619 $69,048
Graduated total $7,430 $29,720 $74,300
Income-based contingent total $8,834 $35,338 $114,483



Standard plan payments on original loans example:

Repayment amount $5,000 loan $20,000 loan $50,000 loan
Monthly payment $58 $230 $575
Total $6,905 $27,619 $69,048



Graduated plan payments on original loans example:

Repayment amount $5,000 loan $20,000 loan $50,000 loan
Monthly payment $33-100 $133-398 $332-996
Total $7,430 $29,720 $74, 300



Income-based contingent plan payments on original loans example:

Repayment amount $5,000 loan $20,000 loan $50,000 loan
Monthly payment $35-50 $140-202 $225-572
Total $8,834 $35,338 $114,483

Note: Payments are calculated using the interest rate of 6.8 percent for student borrowers with an estimated Adjusted Gross Income of $25,000 and a family size of 1.


Defaulting on student loans

If you fail to repay your loan, you will be in default and your credit rating will be damaged. This may impact your ability to borrow money for a home, vehicle or additional education. Your wages may be garnished, and your federal and state income taxes may be withheld. Your loan could be sent to a collection agency, and you would be liable for collection fees.

Student loan borrowers in default do have options to repay their loans. Learn more from the U.S. Department of Education.

If you have a dispute with your service regarding repayment of federal loans, you may contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman.

U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman
830 First Street, NE
Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20202-5144
(877) 557-2575

Debt management resources

Columbia College has partnered with Inceptia, a student loan counseling agency, to provide students with resources about repayment options. Students may receive calls, letters or emails from Inceptia to discuss student loan repayment and possible options. Options may include alternative repayment plans, deferment, consolidation, discharge, forgiveness or forbearance. 

Personal finance

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