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Understanding Paid Ahead Status on Your Student Loans

Understanding Paid Ahead Status on Student Loans
Jennifer Calonia
Jennifer CaloniaUpdated January 17, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When it comes to student loan debt, paying ahead on student loans might seem like a good idea. But there could be some unintended consequences. It’s important to understand how pay ahead status works and its impact on your student loan repayment.  Here’s what you need to know.

What is Paid Ahead Status on Student Loans?

If you send your student loan lender or servicer a loan payment that is greater than the payment amount due for the month, your loan might be placed on “paid ahead status.” A paid ahead status means that the extra amount is applied toward the next month’s bill rather than being applied to your loan balance. Paid ahead status doesn’t result in shortening your student loan repayment terms and getting out of debt faster. It’s simply an advanced payment for a future bill. 

How Paid Ahead Status Works

Here’s an example of how an overpayment results in paid ahead status and affects your student loan account. Let’s say your monthly federal student loan payment is $350. In November, you make a $700 payment. Generally, the extra $350 is applied toward December’s loan bill.After this “credit” is processed on your account, your December loan statement will reflect $0 due. The excess payment is applied to outstanding fees and interest first, and any remaining amount goes toward your principal loan balance.Paying ahead on student loans gives you a break from payments since you’ve provided payment early. But it doesn’t actually result in paying off student loans faster.

Getting Out of Paid Ahead Status

If you have student loans in paid ahead status, there are a few ways to get your loans out of this classification.

Pausing Your Loan Payments

If your student loan is in paid ahead status and your next payment currently has a $0 amount due, one option for getting out of paid ahead status is to not make a payment for the next month. Then, when your loan account is more than $0, make a payment for the exact amount due to avoid another paid ahead status. 

Contacting Your Lender

You have the right to ask your loan lender or servicer to apply your extra payment toward your loan principal, and remove the paid ahead status from your account. Verify that the change is reflected on your online account, and follow-up with them if it wasn’t done.

Speaking With Borrower Advocates

It’s not uncommon that borrowers may experience challenges with resolving student loan account concerns. If you need help with federal student loans, submit a complaint to Federal Student Aid (FSA). For private student loans, submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.   

Contacting the Department of Education Student Loan Ombudsman

Borrowers with federal student loans who need additional help can reach out to the FSA Ombudsman Group. These professionals can assist in resolving payment-related problems and other issues related to your account. You can submit a complaint online, or contact the Ombudsman Group by calling (877) 557-2575. You can also mail a letter to:U.S. Department of Education  FSA Ombudsman Group  P.O. Box 1854  Monticello, KY 42633

How Paid Ahead Affects Refinancing Student Loans

Whether you have federal or private student loans, paid ahead status doesn’t affect your ability to refinance student loansHowever, there are pros and cons of refinancing federal student loans that you should consider before moving forward. For example, refinancing student loans might get you a lower interest rate if you’re eligible. It can also help you pay down your debt faster and save you more money overall. A major downside, however, is that refinancing federal loans turns them into private loans that aren’t eligible for federal benefits such as federal student loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment plan options, and flexible deferment or forbearance options. 

The Takeaway

A paid ahead status on your student loans might have an unintended effect on your repayment strategy. You might think paid ahead means you’ll get out of debt faster, but in fact, much of the payment typically goes to outstanding fees and interest on your loans rather than the principal. If your goal is to reduce your interest charges and get out of student loan debt faster, refinancing student loans that aren’t eligible for forgiveness is an alternative option. Lantern by SoFi lets you easily compare multiple student loan refinancing offers to find the most competitive rate. Explore your student loan refinancing options with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I pay ahead on my student loans?
What does paid ahead mean on a student loan?
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Photo credit: iStock/shironosov

About the Author

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia is a Los Angeles-based finance writer who has covered the gamut, including student loans, credit card rewards, consumer loans, and debt. Her work has been featured in outlets like Bankrate, NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.
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