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Capitalized Interest


Capitalized interest refers to the unpaid interest on a loan, which is added to the loan’s principal balance instead of being paid off immediately. This practice occurs when a borrower is allowed to defer interest payments during specific periods, such as the construction of a project or a student’s enrollment in school. As a result, the interest accumulates and is added to the principal amount, leading to a higher overall loan balance and increased interest costs over time.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Capitalized Interest” is:/ˈkæpɪtəˌlaɪzd ˈɪntrəst/(cap-it-uhl-ahyzd in-truhst)

Key Takeaways

  1. Capitalized Interest refers to the process of adding the unpaid interest on loans or credit to the principal balance, which increases the total amount to be paid back.
  2. It is commonly used in student loans, mortgages, and construction loans where borrowers are allowed to defer the payment of interest during certain periods, such as when they are still in school or during construction.
  3. Although capitalizing interest can provide temporary relief from interest payments, it ultimately results in borrowers paying more interest over the life of the loan, as they are paying interest on a higher principal balance.


Capitalized interest is a crucial concept in business and finance as it refers to the process of adding accrued interest to the principal amount of a loan or financial asset, rather than paying it out periodically. This practice directly impacts the total cost of borrowing and financial asset valuation, as it causes the overall payable amount to increase over time. Additionally, it affects a company’s cash flow management and financial statements by allowing borrowers to defer interest payments, which may appear advantageous in the short-term but can lead to a higher debt burden in the long run. Stakeholders, such as investors and lenders, must carefully consider capitalized interest when evaluating an organization’s financial health and making informed decisions.


Capitalized interest plays a crucial role in the financial management of long-term projects and financial instruments by allowing borrowers to manage their cash flow during construction or development phases more effectively. Essentially, capitalized interest is the interest accrued on a loan during the period when the borrower is not required to make any principal or interest payments. This interest is added to the total cost of the project and becomes part of the principal amount of the loan. Businesses often utilize this strategy when funding the construction of a new building or plant, while individuals may capitalize interest on mortgage loans for property construction. By capitalizing interest, companies can maintain their cash reserves and use them for other critical business functions, such as operational expenses or investing in new opportunities, during the construction period. This method offers advantages to borrowers, as it allows for better financial planning and resource allocation. Furthermore, capitalized interest plays a significant part in determining the overall cost of capital for a project, impacting the firm’s financial ratios and performance metrics. To evaluate the benefits of capitalized interest, businesses need to weigh the immediate cash flow relief against the potential increase in their long-term financial obligations and the impact on their financial health. Thus, it serves as an essential financial tool for managing capital budgeting and long-term borrowing to facilitate growth.


Capitalized interest refers to the practice of adding the accrued interest on a loan to the principal amount, instead of paying it off immediately. It can be applied in various financial settings, such as student loans, mortgages, or corporate finance. Here are three real-world examples: 1. Student Loans: Many students do not make payments on their loans while they are still in school. Instead, the interest that accrues while they are studying is added to their loan balance (capitalized), allowing them to postpone repayments until they graduate or leave school. For example, Emily takes out a $20,000 student loan with a 6% annual interest rate. During her four years in college, the interest capitalizes, increasing the principal amount she owes upon graduation to approximately $25,200. 2. Construction Loans: When a company or developer borrows money to build a project such as a real estate development or infrastructure project, interest on the loan often capitalizes during the construction period. This means that the interest accrued is added to the initial loan amount instead of being paid off during construction. For example, ABC Corporation is building a commercial property, and the construction loan has a $1 million principal balance with an 8% annual interest rate. If construction takes two years, the interest ($80,000 per year) will be capitalized, increasing the principal amount to $1,160,000 once the project is completed. 3. Mortgage Loans: Certain mortgages, known as interest-only or payment option mortgages, allow borrowers to capitalize a portion of the interest for a specific period or under certain conditions. This results in a deferred payment, causing the loan’s principal amount to increase. For example, John takes out a $300,000 interest-only mortgage with a 4% annual interest rate. While the interest-only period lasts for five years, the unpaid portion of the interest is capitalized, increasing the loan’s principal balance. Only after this period will John start repaying the full principal with interest.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is capitalized interest?
Capitalized interest is the interest that accrues on a loan or other financial obligation and is added to the principal balance instead of being paid off immediately. This results in the interest itself accruing additional interest over time, effectively increasing the overall cost of the loan.
When is interest usually capitalized?
Interest is typically capitalized in situations involving long-term projects or investments, such as construction loans, student loans during deferment or grace periods, or real estate investments where the interest payment is delayed until the borrower starts receiving income from the investment.
How is capitalized interest calculated?
Capitalized interest is calculated by multiplying the outstanding principal balance by the applicable interest rate for the specified compounding period. This calculated interest is then added to the principal balance, which becomes the new principal balance for the next compounding period.
How does capitalized interest affect the total cost of a loan?
Capitalized interest increases the overall cost of a loan because the unpaid interest is added to the principal balance, causing that balance to grow instead of being gradually reduced through regular interest payments. As the principal balance increases, so does the total interest paid over the life of the loan.
Can capitalized interest be tax-deductible?
In some cases, capitalized interest may be tax-deductible, depending on the nature of the loan or investment and the applicable tax laws in your jurisdiction. For example, capitalized interest on mortgages or qualified student loans can potentially be tax-deductible. However, it is always advisable to consult with a tax professional to determine the specifics of your situation.
Does capitalized interest apply to all types of loans?
No, capitalized interest is not applicable to all types of loans. It is mostly relevant to loans or investments with deferred interest payments or long construction periods, such as student loans, construction loans, or certain real estate investments.
Can I avoid capitalized interest?
To avoid capitalized interest, you can choose to make interest payments during the period when the interest would otherwise be capitalized. This can help minimize the overall cost of the loan by preventing the principal balance from growing and reducing the total interest paid over time.
Is capitalized interest the same as compound interest?
While both capitalized interest and compound interest involve the calculation of interest on interest, they are not the same thing. Capitalized interest specifically refers to the practice of adding unpaid interest to the principal balance of a loan, whereas compound interest is the more general concept of interest being calculated on both the initial principal and any accumulated interest.

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