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Is there a bonus or benefit I can get by paying my loans off early?

Getting a bonus from your lender for early repayment would be nice, but it won’t happen. However, there are plenty of other perks to early repayment.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

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If you have done any research on student loan repayment strategy, you know that paying your loans off “aggressively” is highly encouraged. Many borrowers read this and think there might be a bonus of some sort by paying off the debt right away.

Suppose you owe $15,000 to a student loan lender. If you are in a position to pay $14,000 right now, would your lender consider the loan paid in full? You might even think you are deserving of some sort of benefit for paying the loan off sooner than required.

Unfortunately, most lenders do not offer any bonus for paying extra. They usually prefer that you pay the minimum in order to maximize their profits on interest. However, there is at least one strategy that allows borrowers to use their relatively strong financial position to come out ahead.

The Reality of the Situation

Unfortunately, lenders offer no direct bonus to people who pay off their loans early. The reality of the situation is that they don’t want you to pay off your loans early.

Lenders do not make money by principal balance being repaid. They make money on interest. A small loan that takes years to repay can be much more profitable to a lender than a large loan that is repaid very quickly.

It is also worth noting that for many student loans, there is minimal risk to the lender. Student loan debt is a special category of debt that has almost no bankruptcy protection. With a mortgage or credit card debt, the lender faces the possibility that the borrower may declare bankruptcy and never pay the debt. With student loans, there is minimal risk that the lender gets nothing. Additionally, many student loans have cosigners attached to the loan. All of these lender protections mean that the lender has every incentive to encourage you to drag out the repayment on your loan.

The longer you owe a balance, the more money they make. For this reason, lenders are normally unwilling to settle for anything less than the full balance.

What is the point of paying off loans early?

If there is no bonus to eliminating a student loan quickly, why should I pay all that money now?

The answer is simple: paying off the loan now can save you a ton of money on future interest payments.

You are paying interest on your student loan daily. With every day that passes, you owe a little bit more money on your student loan. As a result, when you make your monthly payment, much of that payment can be applied towards interest, and only the part that is applied towards the principal balance reduces what you owe.

If you pay your loan off in full, it eliminates years of payments towards interest. Even if you can’t pay the loan off entirely, extra payments knock down the principal balance and save money in the long run. The less you spend on interest; the less the debt actually costs you out of pocket.

Using a strong financial position to your benefit

Borrowers who are successfully repaying their student loans are often able to get lower interest rates through refinancing.

Another benefit to refinancing is that many of the refinance companies will pay a new customer bonus to recruit new borrowers.

Locking in a lower interest rate can often free up money for borrowers to focus on other financial goals, such as buying a house or saving for retirement.

At present, borrowers can get the following rates through refinancing:

RankLenderLowest RateSherpa Review
T-1ELFI5.28%ELFI Review
T-1Splash Financial5.28%*Splash Financial Review
3Laurel Road5.49%Laurel Road Review

The largest benefit to early repayment

Lenders want you to drag your feet on repayment. It maximizes their profits. Your goal should be to minimize their profits. The less they make on the loan, the better you are doing.

As a result, lenders certainly won’t be offering you an incentive to pay off your loan early… but the lack of incentive shouldn’t matter. Eliminating debt and the interest that comes with it should be all the incentive you need.

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.

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