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To be honest, I'm not clear what you mean by the student loan payment plan - level vs. graduated. I've had the same monthly payment for years.

There is often an option for Garduated payments that is not dependent on income; it is just an option that the borrower can elect. The way it works is that you will have a specific payment for a period of time (say 2 years), then it will step up to a greater payment for the next 2 years, and so on. The idea is that earlier in the repayment you have lower payments when (presumably) you have a lower income and then have higher payments later. The catch is that over the lifetime of the loan you will pay more total interest than in a more agressive payment scheme. At the start of a graduated plan the payments are usually just keeping up with the interest and not making much headway on the principal.

Another option to consider would be if you have student loans with different servicers then you MAY be able to consolidate them. One benefit of consolidation is that with a larger balance in one loan the repayment period can be longer.

But in general graduated payments and longer payment terms will just be pushing off your debt payoff to the future and you will pay more interest for this priviledge.
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