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SAVE Calculator: Estimate Payments on Biden’s New IDR Plan

The new SAVE plan will offer the lowest monthly payment for the vast majority of borrowers.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

Affiliate Disclosure and Integrity Pledge

The newest federal income-driven repayment plan will be called SAVE, Saving on a Valuable Education. It includes several exciting changes for borrowers.

The calculator below was created using the exact terms as defined in the federal registrar. The Department of Education has also released a fact sheet that provides a nice summary of the new SAVE plan.

Sherpa Tip: This calculator estimates SAVE payments using the fully implemented SAVE calculation. This means that undergraduate and graduate loan balances are needed. Scroll down for more details.

It has been updated to include the new 2024 Federal Poverty Level Guidelines.

Note: Use Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for best results.


The new SAVE plan will essentially replace several different IDR plans.

Notably, the REPAYE plan has been completely replaced by SAVE plan.

By July 1, 2024, the transition from REPAYE to SAVE should be complete. At that time, the calculations become even more favorable for borrowers with undergraduate debt.

The calculator above is designed to help borrowers project payments on the final version of SAVE. If you enrolled before July 1, 2024, your payment should drop in July if you have any undergraduate debt. If you have only undergraduate debt, the July 1 changes should cut your payment in half.

Want to Sign Up? Signing up for SAVE is easy, but there are some mistakes borrowers will want to avoid.

Important Eligibility Notice

All federal student loans would be eligible for this repayment plan except for two notable exceptions.

FFEL Loans and Perkins Loans – FFEL and Perkins loans are not eligible for SAVE but could be made eligible through federal direct consolidation.

Parent PLUS Loans – Parent PLUS loans are not eligible for any IDR plan other than the income-contingent repayment plan (ICR). The proposed changes would not alter this rule. Unlike FFEL loans, a simple consolidation does not fix the Parent PLUS eligibility issue. However, the double-consolidation loophole may work for the borrowers who complete the process in time.

Note for Married Couples

Calculating monthly payments without counting spousal income is now possible with the SAVE plan. This is a significant change from REPAYE, where married couples could not file separately to exclude spousal income from monthly payment calculations.

If you file separately, enter only your adjusted gross income in the line asking about income. If you are filing jointly, please enter your combined income.

Calculator Shortcomings

This calculator is not a perfect tool. There are some potential issues that borrowers using it should understand.

  • The SAVE Plan could change. It’s possible that Congress passes legislation or someone files a lawsuit that causes the new plan to get blocked. Such an event is unlikely, but it remains a possibility.
  • Mistakes happen. If a number gets transposed or there is confusion about eligibility, payments might not happen exactly as you hoped.
  • Calculations for married couples get complicated. If you and your spouse both have federal student loans, filing separately may become extra beneficial under the new plan. That calculation is a bit more complicated and will be available in a future update.
  • No Cap on SAVE Payments. If you have a small loan balance and a large income, it’s possible that you might be better off enrolling in a balance-based plan such as the 10-year plan or the graduated repayment plan. In this scenario picking a different IDR play might also make sense.

Plan Highlights and Other Benefits

The big headline is the lower payments that you have probably seen after using the calculator.

These lower payments happen for two main reasons. First, discretionary income gets redefined for the SAVE plan. Previous calculations used a discretionary income of 150% of the federal poverty level. This new plan would use 225% of the federal poverty level.

Additionally, undergraduate borrowers only pay 5% of their discretionary income toward their loans. In the past, it was a minimum of 10%. Borrowers with only graduate debt will still pay 10%. This isn’t really fair to teachers and social workers, but it is still an improvement. Those with a mix will pay a weighted percentage between 5% and 10%. For this reason, the calculator asks about undergraduate and graduate debt.

Beyond the lower payments, there are some other significant changes:

Repayment Plan Alerts

Because we are dealing with some legal challenges to the new repayment plan, I’ve set up a mailing list to notify readers of any big changes.

At most, you will receive one email per month. The idea is to highlight the critical changes and essential deadlines that borrowers need to know.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

159 thoughts on “SAVE Calculator: Estimate Payments on Biden’s New IDR Plan”

  1. I was wondering if you’ve had any opportunity to see a draft of the new Biden student loan forgiveness plan that is being implemented under a different legal theory than his original plan that was struck down by SCOTUS.
    I am particularly interested in three aspects of the plan.
    First, will it forgive the accrued interest that has tripled the balance of my loan over 22 years. When I graduated I owed $44,000 and I currently owe $127,000 even though I have never missed a required payment. Although some of those monthly payments were zero due to low income.
    Second, will the plan separate undergraduate loans from graduate loans and forgive the undergraduate balances that have been in an IDR plan for over 20 years and require 25 years of repayment for the graduate loan balances only.
    Third, will they be forgiving undergraduate and/or graduate loans for people over 65 years old who have been in an IDR plan for over 20 years.

    • Great questions, Jeff. I have had the opportunity to look at some of the early drafts of the proposed changes, but before I answer your specific questions, I think it is important to point out a couple of items. First, we don’t have final language, and it will almost certianly change during the rulemaking process. Second, in Biden’s recent annoucement he made reference to terms that were not included in the early drafts.

      Thus, at this point, the best we can do is speculate. When the opportunity for public feedback comes, we can get involved, but for now, I can’t give you anything definitive for planning purposes. Instead, I’ll give you my best guess.

      As for your first question, based on the most recent announcement, I think you have a good shot at forgiveness for the accurred interest that caused your balance to grow so much. You may find that your balance is back to the original amount that it was when you graduated.

      I don’t expect that the plan will parse out undergrad debt from graduate debt for forgiveness timing. Additionally, even if it did, I don’t know that it would help much for most borrowers. IDR payment are based on your income, not your loan balance. Thus, even if part of your balance is forgiven in year 20, the payments for the remaining 5 years would be the same. Your proposed change might help borrowers with a small amount of graduate debt, but in most cases that I’ve seen, the graduate debt dwarfs the undergraduate debt.

      Finally, I haven’t seen anything about a special early forgiveness provision for seniors.

      I’d encourage you to keep an eye out for the opportunity to leave public feedback, as I do think you propose some good ideas that merit further discussion.

  2. Repaye Calculator question: If I’m married but filing MFS (separately), is my family size now =1 for the calculator…. or is it still =2 (husband and wife).

    Also since I (we) live in a community property state, when we each file MFS, all the tax software now asks us to fill out the IRS Form 8958, but those instructions are vague and am I entering MFS amounts or MFJ amounts…..? and do any of these 8958 figures now count against us to raise our student loan repayment amounts?

  3. It seems like the SAVE Plan doesn’t work for everyone and is really geared towards lower incomes. I make a 6-figure income but with a family of 6 it doesn’t get you very far in this economy. How can you apply for this program if you are married? I still have a hefty balance of $71k in student loans that I feel like will never go away with the horrible way the interest always tacks on… Any insights on when the one-time IDR Waiver adjustments will happen?

  4. I see that my current FFEL Program Loan is one that is ineligible UNLESS it goes through federal direct consolidation. It is already listed as “Consolidation Loan” on studentaid.gov. Do I have the option to get into SAVE and how do I start that process? Or do I need to come to terms with the fact that I will never have a mortgage.

      • That makes sense.

        Signing up for SAVE requires the borrower to have a direct loan. Typically people with FFEL loans can consolidate into an direct consolidation loan to get eligiblity. Your situaiton is a bit confusing becuase you have a consolidation loan, but it isn’t a direct consolidation loan. (I say this based on the timeline, but I can’t say for certain without getting more details from you.)

        The good news is that you can still consolidate into a direct consolidation loan, but the bad news is that you should probably make a decision before the April 30 deadline. The bad news is that direct consolidation may impact your interest rate. However, it could move you closer to your goal of getting a house.

        The ideal approach for your situaiton will depend on your income, future plans, and several other factors. If you’d like, we can schedule a consultation and discuss things in more detail.

  5. Hello there,

    I’m curious about the SAVE forgiveness after 10 years. I have multiple undergraduate loans each individually under $12,000 (and totaling around $20,000 collectively). Will they all be forgiven after the 10 years of repayments under SAVE?

  6. I have collectively borrowed almost $200,000 in federal loans. Undergraduate was approx. 190,000 and started repayment in 1998 under income based repayment plans. between 2003 and 2006 I was in grad school so loan repayment was on pause. I borrowed an additional $10,000 in grad school and consolidated all the fed loans in 2006. after 25 years since the initial loan payments started in 1998 I am now in repayment with only $11,000 left until they are all paid off. I suspect, my servicer didn’t count my total years in repayment correctly but am unsure if there is any forgiveness available at all. Should I apply for the save program. Wait? Do it now? Do it at all? Getting questions answered has been difficult.

    • Since you borrowed loans for graduate school, it means SAVE forgiveness comes after 25 years. Notably, that clock stops while you are in school, even under the expanded count update.

      As for whether or not you should switch, the answer is probably yes if your are on IBR. You will get lower payments that way. However, your income could be high enough that your remaining balance is forgiven before you reach the 25 years. In that case, paying off the remaining loans aggressively could save money on interest.

      Its really hard to answer without getting an idea of what your estimated SAVE payments would be. The smaller the payment, the more likely the math will say that SAVE is the best option.

  7. How is family size determined for married filed separately. I make more than my wife, so I believe i have to claim the 2 kids on my taxes and she can’t because my AGI is higher. Does she get to claim a family size of 3 (excludes me) for SAVE purposes?

    • That’s a tricky question Noah.

      On the applicaiton it asks for children who recieve more than half their support from you (the applicant). Notably, in the form instructions, it also says that: Your family size may be different from the number of exemptions you claim for tax purposes.

  8. Dealing with loan servers and the Department of Education is such a headache. I have been trying to get one simple question answered for 11 month. I have been in different IDR plans (currently REPAYEE) for over 21 years with over 90% of my student loans being undergraduate and have never missed a required payment. EdFinancial, my servicer, cannot tell me when my last scheduled payment will be. Four months ago I turned to constituent services in my Congressman’s office and they contacted my servicer on my behalf and they can’t get an answer either. Why can’t anyone tell me when my loans will be forgiven?

  9. This is a great and informative article. I’m trying to figure out the best approach to take in my current situation. I have about 10-11 years left on my graduate loans under SAVE (25 years I believe is the timeline). $234K is the total debt, and my interest is around $1200/month at this point. AIG for 2023 was $200,000, and I expect that it will be increasing as the years go by. My new repayment monthly amount under SAVE is lower than my monthly interest, which means my balance won’t be moving unless I start making substantially more money next year/year after. I also have saved $150K that I could put towards the balance, but then I would be left with no safety net.

    Is it best to stay on the SAVE plan for the next 10-11 years, with the understanding that I may have a very large balance that will be forgiven, and potentially taxed, or move to a different plan (which would accrue interest to my balance) forcing me to aggressively pay, or alternatively, use my savings to pay down a good portion of the balance down?

    The high debt is an obstacle with purchasing a home (the interest rate is not ideal by any means) so it would have a detrimental effect longer term. But would I save a substantial amount under SAVE where it would offset such a higher interest rate?

  10. My student loan balance increased by almost 10k because my IDR repayments were lower than the interest being accrued. I just received a raise to 110K salary but have a lot of separate credit and loan debt and worry that my payments will be too high to afford my other payments. I don’t know what my best option is.

    • With the new SAVE subsidy, you no longer have to worry about your balance increasing while you make income-driven payments.

      If income-driven payments are too high due to your new salary, you can explore balance based options such as graduated or extended repayment. The Department of Education Loan Simulator can help you estimate payments on the various plans. The downside is that these balance based plans don’t count toward student loan forgiveness.

      Balancing other debts makes things even more complicated. If you have a high interest credit card, sometimes the best bet is to pick the student loan repayment plan with the lowest monthly bill and focus your efforts on eliminating the credit card debt. Once the credit card balance is taken care of, then you can shift your focus to your student loans.

  11. Great article, very helpful information. I’ve used this calculator as well as gone through the other repayment options on the federal student loan website, ultimately I’ve applied for the new SAVE plan. My question is, is there a way to tell what might be best for next year’s tax filing.

    Situation, I finished paying my student loans a few years back, my wife has ~75K (15 undergrad, 60 grad.), joint AGI is 195K last year. We’ve made no payments during COVID pause. Her own AGI for 2023 taxes will be ~30K or less, as she is staying home with our 2 kids for the next couple years. Would it make sense to file taxes separately for 2023, so her SAVE payment would be based on her loans/income alone, and ultimately be $0, based on my estimates. Would this be allowed? I haven’t found anything that explicitly says it wouldn’t. If so, I could then try to make payments above to bring the balance down.

    Interested in your thoughts on this and really appreciate you time and attention as well as this site. It has served as a valuable resource for me.

      • Thank you for your timely reply. I had a follow-up after reading more about the 0$ payment strategy article. While I understand that investing any ‘extra’ money in a high-yield savings account or something else is a good idea, ultimately how am I going to get out of debt? Is this just continuing to qualify for $0 (or a low payment) for 20/25 years?

        My other follow-up question, is related; if I have ‘extra’ money in the budget to put towards student loans, while on a $0 SAVE payment, am I understanding that correctly that the ‘extra’ dollars can’t be applied as a principal only payment? -they would go to interest first? If that is the case, then I’d be defeating the purpose of having the government cover the interest, right? Again really appreciate all you do!

      • The goal would be to either save up enough money to pay the loan off in full or to reach forgiveness.

        However, it is worth noting that the “extra” payments would go toward principal because the subsidy would cover the interest.

  12. I suppose like everyone else…I am trying to clarify best options …
    Student loan debt $40,000; paid for 2 years on loan prior to covid pause of pymts; household of 2; income $70,000. If I use the SAVE program my monthly pymt will be lower but the number of years I pay will be extended. At current payments I have 8 more years to pay off loan (pause years do not count, correct?). If I move to the SAVE program do the two years I have paid count? (so 18 years left at reduced pymt) or do I start over and have 20 years left to pay?

  13. Hi thanks in advance for all the great info!
    My son’s direct loans total 8000. His income qualifys for 0 payment on the SAVE program for now. Do the loans stay at 10 years? Do they get forgiven? Or do you need to actually pay a payment for that? And when income and payment go up are you paying all the interest plus a portion of the principal?
    Just want to make the best plan for him.

    • It should not be taxed. Think of it as an interest discount rather than forgiveness.

      However, if you are concerned, I’d encourage you to talk to a local tax professional. Tax isn’t my area of expertise, and I can’t guarantee that there isn’t some state or local tax rule that might cause an issue. That said, I’ve never heard of anyone having this problem.

  14. The calculator isn’t working. It keeps spinning and then kicks me out of the website.

    If we have our daughter sign up for the program so she can save the interest, is there any penalty for us making payments on the Principal for her?

    • First, I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to let me know that there is an issue. I’m not a computer programmer, so getting this thing working was a big challenge, and any help to improve it is greatly appreciated.

      That said, I’ve tried it out on a couple of different browsers and both a mac and a PC and I haven’t been able to recreate the issue. Could you please let me know what browser and device type isn’t working so that I can try to figure out the issue?

      As for paying extra on a SAVE plan, there isn’t a penalty. However, it isn’t necessarily the best strategy. I’ve written another article explaining another option to maximize the SAVE subsidy benefit.

  15. Hi there! I owe a 6 digit figure in grad school debt and have a lower and unpredictable income (due to working in the humanities) and recently went on the SAVE plan. My monthly payments are now $59 but I see that interest has already been added (during the COVID forbearance I actually paid off all my interest). Surprisingly, the interest amount seems lower than my initial calculations based on the 6.25% rate.

    I’m seeing inadequate information online about how exactly the interest subsidy for the SAVE plan works- could you speak more about that? I know that interest that is not covered by my monthly payment does not get capitalized into my principal balance, but this still means that interest will accrue regularly, yes? And eventually after my 25 years are up, will the accrued interest amount also be forgiven along with the principal? In which case, I’d have to prepare for a tax bomb in about 18 years that factors in the accrued unpaid interest?

    Any elaboration into this topic would be super helpful, thanks!

  16. Hi,
    I have a $6100 balance for undergrad. Mine are FFEL. I am curious, how do I consolidate to an eligible loan for the SAVE program. Do I contact the lender I pay now? Also, do any of the years I have paid on this loan count toward the 10 year forgiveness? And finally, what happens to the balance of the loan after 10 years? It seems that it is forgiven, but I have also seen where you would receive a form to have to file on your taxes that year. Would this be considered income as far as tax filing is concerned?

  17. I have been scouring the internet trying to figure out one MAJOR problem I am facing: Why my payment skyrocketed from $47 a month pre-COVID under REPAYE, to $648 after automatically converting to SAVE. What I am deducing is that all the loan calculators are using a ten year repayment instead of a twenty-five year repayment… but WHY?

    The kicker is that I am a local government worker, and only have thirty-five more payments left (of the original 120) before I reach PSLF. If MOHELA is using a ten year repayment, that: 1) violates my original loan agreement, and 2) would make the PSLF program pointless. I am being forced to pay my loan off in ten years!

    Am I missing something?

  18. my son has over 130K in private and 49K in federal. Hes a teacher in Florida. He can not make the payments and eat. This program even if he gets approved dosent help with the private. The government needs to help with this. BTW he went to a STATE SCHOOL. How is this allowed to happe

  19. Hello Michael!

    I’m trying to figure out if I should change to the SAVE plan to save myself on interest, yet I don’t quite understand how that works. I have $167k left after paying off around $20k, but stopped paying due the covid pause (yes i know, dumb). I earn around $125k per year and ultimately would love to pay them off in 5 years or so if we are aggressive with them. Can you help me understand the interest being canceled if you make your monthly payment? I understand it will still accumulate daily, but struggling to understand how it cancels it each payment.

  20. My son is trying to figure out whether SAVE makes sense for him, but he’s wondering about penalties/effects of having to switch from SAVE if he were to make more than the 225% ceiling to qualify. He’s got about $14K in loans and is single. Odds are decent that in a year or two he would be earning more than the $34k limit. So what happens then?

    Does he get transitioned into the PAYE (or other) plan? Is there a penalty/cost to do so? Does the “clock” to cancellation reset, so he’d lose the two years on the SAVE plan he’d have toward loan forgiveness?

    I saw you’d recommended not paying down principal but saving that money instead, so it earns interest for you. But if there is a real potential that the borrower would cease to qualify for the SAVE plan, is paying something to knock down principal worth doing anyway?

    • That 34k “limit” at 225% of the federal poverty level that you are describing would be the ceiling in order to qualify for $0 per month payments. You can use the calculator above to see what his payments would be if he earned more money.

      There isn’t a scenario where he would get kicked out of SAVE and put on PAYE.

      The risky with SAVE is that income goes up so high that the payments become really expensive. In that scenario, it would result in paying off the loan in full.

      There shouldn’t be any penalities with SAVE and earning too much money. I’d encourage you to use the calculator to see how different annual incomes might impact the SAVE payments.

  21. I have loans that I went and consolidated.
    One is DL subsidized and the other is DL unsubsidized.
    I requested the save plan and they put me under the IBR
    I am not sure why.
    Also I have worked for a 501C since 2015. It is not showing my PSLF time either.
    Is this incorrect, or am I eligible for Save and Loan forgiveness?

    • Putting your loans on IBR instead of SAVE is strange.

      If they put you on ICR, I’d suspect that it was because you had Parent PLUS loans, but with IBR, there isn’t an obvious answer.

      I’d suggest calling your servicer right away to figure out why they did that. If it was a mistake, hopefully they can fix it quickly. If you happened to check the wrong box, it should be easy to change repayment plans.

  22. Hello Michael,

    Thanks for all the great info. If I have two separate loans thru studentaid.gov. Can they be put into 2 different repayment plans? One is ~$11,000 while the other is ~$6000(FFEL). I began paying in 2005. Would the ~$11,000 loan be immediately forgiven on July 1st 2024 based on the $12,000 rule?

    Thanks for the help!

    • The $12,000 rule wouldn’t apply to you because it is based on the total balance of all the original loans, not the balance on individual loans.

      However, with the IDR payment count update, you are probably very close to earning IDR forgiveness on these loans.

      I’d suggest calling your servicer right away to verify eligibility and to find out when they expect your loans to be eligible for forgiveness on an IDR plan like SAVE.

  23. Hi Michael, here is the question I can’t find the answer to.
    If my payment under SAVE is $0, does that mean my interests will be waived and then can I pay down the principal?


    • You are correct. The subsidy will cover all of the interest in a $0 payment situation, so your extra payments will lower the principal balance.

      However, this might not be the best approach. For example, you could put your extra payments in a high-yield savings account. If you eventually get your debt forgiven, you keep the money in the savings account. If your income goes up and you decide to pay off the loans aggressively, you can use the funds to put a huge dent in your balance or eliminate it.

  24. Hello! Great article. My husband and I filed jointly this past year, but plan to file separately this coming year for taxes. Do I need to include my husband’s income on the application NOW or can I only use mine since we plan to file separately? Thanks! Kya

    • Unfortunately, if you filed your most recent tax return jointly, his income will be included in the calculation unless you are separated, or you can’t reasonably access his income information. Check out Section 4A of the IDR request form for more details.

      If you were on an IDR plan before the Covid-19 pause, you can resume payments on your old plan for at least six months before you have to recertify.

      Also, if you do use his income when calculating payments for this fall, you can request your payments be recalculated as soon as you file your married filing seperate tax return in 2024.

  25. If I have loans that I was paying on prior to Covid, does the 10 year repayment with the new SAVE Program count those prior payments?

  26. my original loans were from the early 2001-2005 they were ffel i payed the majority of them off it was undergraduate. I entered into a income based payment plan in 2012 and have qualified for 0 repayment since. I currently have less than 4000 in loan balance left would it benefit me to switch to save and would I have to re consolidate in order to do so.

      • Hi Michael, this comment of yours is tantalizingly close to answering a huge question I’ve been having. I hope you’ll see this reply and find time to respond.

        Basically, I have some FFEL loans like Stacie does, among other loans types. I understand that I’d need to consolidate to enter the SAVE plan. All my loans, of all types, are from 2012 and earlier, so I am on the Old IBR. Total outstanding balance is about $140,000 and my AGI is about $95,000. They are a mix of undergrad and grad school loans.

        In your comment to Stacie, you seem to indicate that she would not have to restart the forgiveness clock if she consolidates those FFEL loans to enter SAVE. Is that what you meant?

        Just trying to make sure, because I am using the Loan Simulator on Studentaid.gov right now, and it is saying, of course, that I must consolidate to enter SAVE. Then, it spits out a loan end date of 2048, which is 25 years from now.

        So, that makes it seem like one would lose all progress toward forgiveness as a result of consolidating the FFEL loans to become eligible for SAVE. So I’m just struggling to figure out if I should consolidate and get into SAVE or if doing so would actually destroy the 11-12 years of payments I’ve already made.

        Really hoping to hear from you. And thank you for all the information you put out on this site. It is unbelievably helpful.

  27. Hello! Great articles and tips!

    I’ve read a couple other previous comments and I think I already know my answer, but just wanted to check. I currently have $290,571 of federal loans with a family of 4 (We file jointly, my wife is a stay at home mom with two kids under 6) and my AGI is ~$140,000. I am just over 4 years into the 10 years of PSLF. Currently I am on the PAYE repayment plan.

    Due to the timing of Covid I haven’t made any payments. This is with the intent of the loans to be forgiven after staying with PSLF for 10 years. My income has increased a fair amount since I started working. I know I will need to recertify/self-report/update my income in the next couple months when payments resume. I’m striving to keep the lowest absolute monthly payment that will still qualify with PSLF.

    From what I gather- at least according to some of the above comments, the SAVE plan is what I should switch to from my PAYE plan? Is that a correct conclusion?


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