How Early Can You Pay Back Student Loans? And Other Loan Repayment FAQs

Learn if you can set up a monthly auto-pay, how early you can begin repayment, if there's a penalty for repaying early, how many servicers you may have, and how to consolidate.
Woman using computer to learn about student loan repayment

Student loan repayment is always a hot topic, as millions of individuals borrow loans to pay for college each year. And though loan lenders and servicers do their best to make the repayment process as smooth as possible, questions do arise from both students and parents. We pulled some of the more recent questions we received and provided some detailed answers below.

Can I set up a monthly auto-pay from my bank?

Yes, most loan servicers (the company that collects your loan payment) will provide the option for you to set up automatic payments from your bank account so that you're sure to make your loan payment on time each month. It's a great idea to do this! Check your servicer's website or give them a call if you can't find this information online. Just make sure to update your servicer if your bank information ever changes.

How early can you begin paying back student loans? Is there a benefit to beginning repayment when the student is still in school? Is there a penalty for repaying early?

Most loan servicers don't have penalties for early repayment, so you can begin repaying your student loan as soon as you borrow it. Just check to make sure you won't receive any kind of penalty. And if you do choose to repay your loans early, you'll save money on interest accrued, so there's certainly a benefit to early repayment if it's feasible for your family.

I want to pay my son's loan interest monthly so he will only owe the principal when he is done. But how do I find out the name of the lender and their contact info?

Contact the college's financial aid office to find out the lender for your son's loan and how to contact them. The lender can let you know how to make payments on the interest accrued. If you're not a co-borrower on the loan, you may need your son's assistance to set up a repayment method.

I've already received requests to pay back our loan, but the student is still in school. Why would that be?

If you borrowed a loan with immediate repayment, or interest-only repayment, you'll need to begin paying back your loan soon after it's borrowed. Only loans that are deferred don't require payment until after the student leaves school or graduates. Check in with your loan servicer to find out the type of loan you borrowed. If you think you're receiving your requests for repayment in error, call your servicer immediately.

If all of my student loans are federal, will I have one servicer for all of my loans?

It's possible you may have more than one servicer for your federal loans, though the federal government does try to give students just one servicer for their federal loans. To find out your servicer, you can log in to or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (800) 433-3243. If you have multiple servicers, the only way to combine your loans into one servicer is to consolidate your loans into a Federal Consolidation Loan. Your Consolidation Loan will have one servicer and a new interest rate based on the weighted average interest rates of your loans being consolidated. You can learn more about loan consolidation here. Whether your loans were subsidized or unsubsidized won't affect your loan servicer assignment.

If I borrowed four years of student loans, will I have to make four loan payments each month?

This depends on your loan servicer. If you borrowed four years of federal loans, you may have different loan servicers (see above), in which case you would need to make separate payments to each loan servicer. However if you have the same servicer for all of your federal loans, your loan debt will be combined, and you will just need to make one payment per month. If you borrowed private loans, as long as you borrowed your loans from the same lender each year, you'll just make one monthly payment for all of those loans.

Can I consolidate private and government loans?

Consolidation is only for federal student loans. By consolidating your loans, you'll combine your federal student loan debt into one new federal loan with one loan servicer. The interest rate on that loan will be determined by the weighted interest rate of all loans you are consolidating. If you want to combine your federal and private loans, you need to look into refinancing. Refinancing will result in one new loan with one new servicer. Your interest rate will be based on the strength of your credit and the interest rates offered by the refinancing lender. Several organizations offer education refinancing loans. Keep in mind that refinancing your federal loans will cause you to lose out on any benefits associated with federal loans for which you may be eligible. You can learn more about the differences between consolidation and refinancing here.

Can you pay off your loans while in deferment?

Yes, you are permitted to repay your loans even when they are in deferment. If interest is accruing on your loans while in deferment, making payments will eliminate some of that interest and lower the overall cost of the loan. Even if interest is not accruing while your loans are in deferment, making payments will help to lower your total loan debt.

If you're beginning loan repayment soon, or already in the thick of it, we recommend you watch our recent webinar, Managing Student Loan Repayment for Graduating College Seniors. It reviews everything you need to know about repaying your student loans. And if you have further repayment questions, feel free to give us a call at (800) 449-MEFA (6332).

Watch the Managing Student Loan Repayment webinar