How to Consolidate Student Loans

Whether you are a recent college grad or you have been out of school for several years, if you paid for school with loans, you are probably wondering how to consolidate student loans. Large debts from school can be hard to manage, and having your loans spread across several financial institutions can make it even more difficult. Consolidation can not only make it easier to pay your student loans each month, it can also save you money by lowering your interest rate in many cases. Understanding how to consolidate student loans may make it easier for you to reduce your debt and move forward with a stronger financial future.

college graduation

This is only the beginning!

Consolidating student loans usually means that a single lender will group all of your smaller loans into a single larger loan by buying out your other loans and becoming your primary lender. You will have a single point of contact, a single place to send your payments, and often, a much lower interest rate that will allow you to pay off loans more quickly. While student loan consolidation isn’t right for everyone, generally, the more student loans you have, the more sense it makes to consolidate them.

When you are looking at how to consolidate student loans (Government or other private student loans), the first thing you need to think about is whether you are a good candidate for consolidation. There are pros and cons, depending on your individual situation. First, remember that consolidating loans means a fixed interest rate, so you don’t have to worry about interest rates going up- but you also won’t experience the benefits of a decrease in interest rates. If you think the rate you are being offered on a consolidation is too high, you may want to wait a while and see if the rate drops. You also need to figure out whether you have federal loans (such as Stafford, PLUS and SLS) or private loans. There are consolidations available for both types, but you will need to figure out which type you have.

Paying off student loans with a handful of cash

How much is your student loan monthly payment?

Once you have decided that you want to consolidate your student loans, the next step is to figure out how to consolidate your student loans. Remember that you cannot consolidate loans while you are still in school, but you can consolidate them while you are in the “grace period” right after graduation before the repayment plan begins. You may want to start with an student loans online consolidation calculator which will help you figure out what you should be paying and what your interest rate will likely be. You should talk to a number of different lenders to see what the policies, interest rate, and repayment plan for each one is. As with any other type of loan you take out, the more homework you do up front, the less likely you are to end up with more than you bargained for. Remember that no legitimate company will force you to pay an upfront fee in order to consolidate your federal student loans.

Once you have decided how to consolidate student loans, the next step is to be sure that you keep up with payments. Missing or being chronically late may result in increased interest rates, fees, or other financial difficulties that will undermine your efforts. Learning how to consolidate student loans isn’t difficult, and it can be an important step toward being financially secure after college.