Whether you are a parent of a college student, a current student, or a recent college graduate, you have undoubtedly realized how confusing student loans can be. Many students have multiple loans from several lenders, each with its own distinct terms, rate, and payoff amount. Keeping track of these multiple loans seems like a full time job where, instead of receiving a paycheck, you are given stacks of payment coupons. There is a way to free yourself from the overwhelming monotony of being in this position: Student loan consolidation.
Student loan consolidation makes things much less complicated; instead of tracking multiple loans and payments, you will only have one monthly payment. A typical repayment period is ten years. While in essence student consolidation loans are large loans used to pay off several smaller loans, they are governed by different rules than other types of consolidation loans. Here are some distinct features of student loan consolidation:
1. You cannot consolidate student loans that are in default. If you have already defaulted on one or more student loans, you must first work with the lender/s to get back on a payment plan; then you are free to consolidate these loans. You may consolidate student loans that are still in the grace period, as well as loans on which you are currently making payments.
2. If your student loans are through conventional federal funding sources like Stafford Loans, Direct Loans, Perkins or Guaranteed Student Loans, and you are not in default on any student loans, you should find it relatively easy to obtain a consolidation loan; however, it is not always possible to consolidate student loans from private funding sources. You should consolidate any federal student loans first, because their availability and interest rates are not based on a person's credit. By making timely payments on a federal loan consolidation, you can improve your credit and get better rates and terms when you consolidate any private student loans.
3. When you consolidate student loans, the interest rate you will pay is calculated based on the average rate of your existing loans. If most of your outstanding student loans have similar interest rates, then your student consolidation loan should have approximately the same rate. If your interest rates vary widely, your consolidation loan will be based on a weighted average of your existing rates.
4. You should be able to consolidate your student loans without having to pay a fee. Beware of lenders that offer to consolidate your loans for a small fee; There should be no fees for student loan consolidation, and you can easily shop elsewhere.
5. Many lenders require that you consolidate a certain minimum amount of student loan debt. The amount will vary from lender to lender, but if your student loans total less than $10,000, you may have fewer options available when consolidating.
By simply consolidating your outstanding student loans, you will see improvement in your overall credit score. Part of your credit score is based on the number of accounts you have open, and by reducing this number you will be seen as a lower credit risk. For recent college graduates whose maximum earning potential may be years in the future, student loan consolidation can make surviving on an entry level salary much more comfortable.