For those of you who found it necessary to finance your education with Student Loans, it may be beneficial to explore your private student loan consolidation options.
The benefits can be significant:
- You can simplify your bill paying. No need to keep track of multiple payments, lenders, rates and schedules.
- You can possibly get a lower rate, or a fixed rate instead of a variable one. Make sure you check out discounts that may apply, and include these discounts in your comparisons.
- You may be able to change the terms to better fit your situation and potentially reduce the amount you must pay each month.
There are some things you need to consider before you make the decision to consolidate:
- Understand your reasons to consolidate. Are you looking to simplify your bill-paying, do you want to find a more efficient way to pay back your loans, or do you need lower monthly payments? Your answers will determine what kind of consolidation terms you should look for.
- Extending the payment schedule may ultimately lead to paying more interest over the life of the loan. Make sure you understand how much interest you will pay over the term the loan compared to what you are currently paying.
- Federal loans can only be consolidated once, through Direct Lending, so spend the time to ensure that the timing is right for you.
- You may lose certain benefits granted in the original loan, like grace periods and loan forgiveness options. Take a look at all of the loan terms, not just the monthly payment amount.
For federal loans, FinAid has a helpful calculator which can help you calculate the new rate that you would pay, and you can find more details about the process at the Department of Education’s Direct Consolidation.
As with all things, this will depend on your unique situation, so weigh your options carefully.