What Increases Your Total Loan Balance?


You've borrowed money, and now you're in debt. Simple, right? Not exactly. When it comes to loans, there's more to your debt than just the principal balance. It's important to understand what can increase your total loan balance, so you can plan and manage your finances more effectively.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Loan Balance: Total loan balance includes principal, interest, and fees. Factors such as interest rates, late fees, and loan modifications can alter this balance.

Loan Balance Influencers: Interest rates, capitalized interest, and loan modifications notably affect the loan balance. Refinancing or consolidating loans could also impact the balance.

Private vs Federal Loans: These loan types can result in different total loan balances due to varying terms and interest rates.

Reducing Loan Balance: Regular payments, extra payments, and loan forgiveness programs can help decrease the total loan balance.

Understanding Total Loan Balance


The total loan balance is the sum of the principal (the original loan amount) and any accrued interest and fees. It's the total amount you owe to your lender at any given time.

Factors Affecting Total Loan Balance

Numerous factors can increase your total loan balance. These include your interest rates, any capitalized interest, late fees, modifications or forbearances, deferments, and even refinancing or consolidating your loans.

Increases in Total Loan Balance

Let's delve into how each of these factors can increase your total loan balance.

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What Increases Your Total Loan Balance?

Interest Rates and Loan Balance

Impact of Interest Rates

Interest is the cost of borrowing money, and it's calculated as a percentage of your outstanding loan balance. The higher your interest rate, the more your total loan balance will increase over time.


Consider a $10,000 loan with an annual interest rate of 5%. Over a year, you'd accrue $500 in interest, increasing your total loan balance to $10,500.

Capitalized Interest

How it Works

Capitalized interest is unpaid interest that gets added to your loan's principal balance. Once capitalized, this interest begins accruing additional interest, leading to a snowball effect that can significantly increase your total loan balance.


Suppose you deferred payments on your student loans while in school. Any unpaid interest during this period would be capitalized, increasing your loan's principal balance and, consequently, your total loan balance.

Late Fees

How do they Add Up

When you miss a payment, your lender may charge a late fee. If left unpaid, these fees are added to your total loan balance, compounding your debt.

Late Fees

Setting reminders or automating your payments can help avoid late fees. It's also beneficial to communicate with your lender if you're struggling to make payments. They might offer a solution that prevents late fees.

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Loan Balance

Loan Modification or Forbearance

Impact on Loan Balance

Loan modification or forbearance allows you to temporarily reduce or pause your loan payments. However, interest typically continues to accrue during this period, resulting in an increased total loan balance when payments resume.

Deferment and Loan Balance

Effect of Deferment

Like forbearance, deferment allows you to pause payments. Yet, unless you have subsidized loans, interest continues to accrue, raising your total loan balance.

Refinancing and Loan Consolidation

Potential Consequences

Refinancing or consolidating your loans can simplify payments and potentially reduce your interest rate. However, extending your repayment period can lead to you paying more interest over time, increasing your total loan balance.

Private vs Federal Loans

Differences in Loan Balance

Federal loans often come with lower interest rates and more borrower-friendly repayment options than private loans. Therefore, all else equal, private loans can lead to a higher total loan balance.

Reducing Total Loan Balance

While it may seem daunting, there are strategies you can employ to manage and reduce your total loan balance.

On-Time Payments


Making payments on time avoids late fees and reduces your principal balance faster, thereby decreasing your accrued interest.

Strategies for Consistent Payments

Setting up automatic payments or scheduling reminders can help ensure you never miss a payment.

Making Extra Payments


Making extra payments can significantly reduce your total loan balance over time. These payments go directly toward your principal, reducing the balance that accrues interest.

How to Make Extra Payments

You can make extra payments anytime. Just ensure your lender applies them to your principal and not future payments.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Eligibility and Impact

Certain loan forgiveness programs may forgive a part or all of your loans, dramatically reducing your total loan balance. Check if you're eligible for such programs.


Understanding what increases your total loan balance is crucial to managing your debt effectively. By being aware of how interest rates, capitalized interest, late fees, and other factors affect your total loan balance, you can make informed decisions to keep your debt under control.


What is the difference between principal balance and total loan balance?

The principal balance is the original amount borrowed, while the total loan balance is the principal plus any accrued interest and fees.

Does refinancing always increase my total loan balance?

Not necessarily. While refinancing can lead to more interest paid over time if the repayment period is extended, it can also lower your interest rate, reducing your total loan balance.

Can I reduce my total loan balance by making extra payments?

Absolutely. Extra payments typically go directly toward your principal, reducing the balance that accrues interest, thereby lowering your total loan balance.

How can I reduce my total loan balance?

You can reduce your total loan balance by making on-time payments, making extra payments, and applying for loan forgiveness programs. Additionally, understanding the terms of your loan and effectively managing it can help prevent unnecessary increases in your total loan balance.

Vlastimil Stich

I'm an investor specializing in dividend growth stocks, and the founder of CashLendy.com. My mission? To make your life a little bit easier, your financial worries a little less daunting. I have a profound understanding of the financial market, and with my passion for investing and finance, I've created a platform that brings simplicity to securing personal loans. No more jumping through hoops or signing documents you barely understand. Don't let the pressure of financial needs hold you back. Experience the relief of secure, simple, and swift loans with CashLendy.com.

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