Financing your college education with a student loan is often a necessity with tuition rates steadily increasing year after year. However, making those monthly payments can be difficult for both recent graduates and those who have been in the workforce for several years. Whether your starting salary just isn’t quite enough, or life events have prevented you from making your payment in full, you have several options to lower your monthly student loan payment. Federal Student Loans Student loans obtained through the U.S. Department of Education come with several options for lowering your monthly payment. If you have more than one federal loan, you may consolidate them into one payment. This can lower your monthly payment by extending your repayment term; however, the new loan will use a weighted average of all the previous interest rates, so you won’t actually save money in interest. Although your monthly payment may go down by extending the length of the term, remember that you may end up paying more in interest over time. In addition to loan consolidation, you can also choose a variety of repayment plans. Standard repayment plan: fixed payments over ten years Graduated repayment plan: payments increase every two years up to ten years Extended repayment plan: fixed or graduated payments up to 25 years The federal government also offers several income-driven repayment plans. These include: Income-based repayment plan Pay as you earn repayment plan Income-contingent repayment plan Private Student Loans Unlike federal student loans, private loans allow you to refinance both the repayment term and interest rate. Lenders use your credit score in determining your interest rate, so the higher your score, the lower your interest rate. You can also try to negotiate your interest rate since lenders don’t want to lose your business to their competitors. Private student loans also allow you to choose between fixed and adjustable rates. With a fixed rate, your monthly payment amount will never change unless you actively refinance or consolidate further down the road. With an adjustable rate, on the other hand, your monthly interest amount varies depending on market conditions. While you can take advantage of low introductory rates to lower your monthly payment, there is no guarantee how long that rate will last. Another way to lower your monthly payment is to select a competitive lender. Some refinancing lenders will lower your interest rate by a quarter percent simply by enrolling in an automatic payment program.