How Long it Actually Takes to Pay Off Student Loans

You'll likely be paying off your student loans long after you graduate college.

Illustration of a man inserting a coin into a piggy bank with a graduation cap.
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s not surprising that the need for student loans is in high demand, as the average published tuition and fee for 2022-23 is 2.25 times higher than it was 30 years ago at public four-year institutions, rising from $4,870 to $10,940 since 1992-93, according to CollegeBoard

While most complete undergraduate degrees in four years, they'll likely be paying student loans off for more than double that amount of time. It takes most graduates on average 20 years to pay off their student loan debt, although the standard timeline to pay off debt is 10 years, according to a survey conducted by, which surveyed over 61,000 individuals. 

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.