What Is a Promissory Note for a Loan?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2018
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A promissory note for a loan is a type of document that establishes a covenant between the borrower and the lender. Essentially, the terms of the note outline the obligation of the borrower to repay the amount that is named within the document to the lender. In exchange, the lender agrees to use that agreed-upon amount to settle other outstanding loans that the borrower currently owes. This type of negotiable instrument is often utilized by organizations offering student loan consolidations or other lenders who provide various types of debt consolidation loans to customers.

While the exact terms of a promissory note for a loan will vary based on governmental laws and regulations that have to do with lending, there are a few basic elements that are usually involved. The actual amount extended to the borrower is usually the sum total of the outstanding loans that are being considered for consolidation. In some cases, such as in a debt consolidation arrangement that involves multiple loans and even credit card debt, the loan amount may be rounded up to an even amount. With each scenario, the lender typically manages the distribution of the loan proceeds to the creditors of the borrower, ensuring that those other debt obligations are settled in full.


As part of the deal, the borrower who signs the promissory note for a loan enters into a covenant with the lender to repay the debt according to the schedule provided. While this is typically a series of monthly installment payments that include interest applied to that balance, the arrangement may include a deferral period or allow for payments to be made on some other basis, such as quarterly or semiannually. The payment terms are typically included in the detail of the promissory note for a loan and are considered legally binding.

It is not unusual for lenders to require a promissory note for a loan as part of the paperwork that must be signed by both parties before the loan arrangement is considered active. While the note may be included in the body of the loan contract, it is sometimes presented as an additional document that is signed along with that contract. The note remains in force as long as there is some outstanding balance on the loan. Once the complete balance of the loan is retired, the terms of the promissory note are considered fulfilled and the obligation is marked as paid in full.



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