Should You Pay Off Student Loans Early?
You can typically pay off student loans early without any penalties or fees. But is it a good idea?
While paying off your student loans ahead of schedule saves on interest, you want to ensure you have the finances to do so, rather than taking on new debt to retire your college loans.
Let’s take a look at whether you can and should pay off your student loans early.
Can you pay off student loans early?
But while an early debt payoff could help save you some money in student loan interest, you still need to decide if it’s the best move for your financial situation.
Should you pay off student loans early?
It’s important to consider all aspects of an early debt payoff, such as how it affects other areas of your financial health. Here are some situations when paying off your student loans early is a good idea:
- You have disposable income. If you create a budget to pay off debt and have extra funds left over, consider speeding up your student loan payoff.
- You’re on track for retirement. It’s important to save for retirement, even when carrying student loan debt. Consider paying extra toward your student loans if you’re on track to reach your retirement goals and have cash to spare.
- You have an emergency fund. Be sure to set aside a few months’ worth of expenses for any emergencies that may arise. You can prioritize your student loan debt once you build up your emergency fund.
- You don’t have other high-interest debt. Some types of debt, such as credit cards, have much higher interest rates than student loans. Once you’ve repaid your high-interest debts, you can focus on your student loans.
- You have private student loans. Since private student loans tend to have higher interest rates and less flexible terms than federal student loans, it makes sense to tackle them first. Also, there’s no need to rush an early payment if you plan on having your federal student loans forgiven through an income-driven repayment plan or student loan forgiveness program.
Pros and cons of paying off student loans early
Reduces interest charges
Gets you out of debt faster
Improves your debt-to-income ratio
Allows you to pursue other financial goals
Can’t claim the student loan tax deduction
Increases your monthly payments
No longer eligible for student loan forgiveness
Delays building other types of savings
May risk defaulting on other loans
There are many benefits to paying off your student debt early. You will save on student loan interest and get out of debt faster while improving your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. With a higher DTI ratio and more disposable income, you could pursue other financial goals, such as buying a house or saving for retirement.
You can also check out our repayment calculator to see how an early repayment of some of your loans will affect the overall cost of your debt.
However, early debt payoff comes at a price. You will need enough income to cover a higher monthly payment, which could delay saving for other goals.
Furthermore, paying too much toward your student loan could cause you to fall short on essential bills like rent or a car loan. Defaulting on any loan could result in long-term effects on your credit score.
Note that you also won’t be able to take advantage of the student loan tax deduction once you repay your student loans in full. It’s not worth keeping your loans around just for the tax deduction, but if eligible, you could reduce your taxable income by up to $2,500 per year. This is a nice bonus if you need to prioritize other expenses while making the minimum student loan payment.