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Calculate Your Discretionary Income

Calculate discretionary income under Education Department rules to see what your payment would be under income-driven repayment plans.
Jan. 25, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
Calculate Your Discretionary Income
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If you’re struggling to afford federal student loan payments, an income-driven repayment plan may lower them. Your new monthly payment will be capped at 10%, 15% or 20% of your discretionary income, depending on the plan.

Use this calculator to estimate what your payment will be on various income-driven repayment plans. If your income is low enough, your payment may be reduced to $0 a month.

Income-based repayment calculator

What is discretionary income?

Discretionary income is how much money you have left after paying taxes and necessary expenses, like food and shelter. It doesn’t factor in money spent on things like entertainment, shopping or other non-essential purchases.

Discretionary income matters for federal student loans because it determines payment amounts for income-driven repayment plans. By accounting for your necessities, discretionary income helps ascertain how much you could reasonably pay each month.

Of course, people have different needs — or things they consider needs. The government isn’t going to have borrowers submit receipts and defend their spending choices. Instead, it uses a standardized discretionary income definition to make things as fair as possible.

How is discretionary income calculated?

To calculate discretionary income for student loans, the Department of Education:

  • Finds the correct federal poverty guideline for your location and family size.
  • Multiplies that number by 1.5.
  • Subtracts that number from your adjusted gross income.

Adjusted gross income is the amount you pay taxes on. You’ll find it on your most recent tax return on Line 37 if you filed Form 1040; Line 21 on 1040A; or Line 4 on Form 1040-EZ.

Other student loan calculators

Student loan refinance calculator: Compare your current loan payment or multiple payments with a refinanced student loan.

Student loan consolidation calculator: Compare your payments under federal loan consolidation plans with your current bills.

Parent PLUS loans calculator: Estimate your monthly payments on federal direct PLUS loans.

Daily student loan interest calculator: Estimate the amount of interest that your loan accrues daily and between payment periods.

Weighted average interest rate calculator: Determine what the average rate on your current loans is.

Student loan calculator: Determine the monthly payment on new student loans you take out, federal or private.