Many college graduates have multiple student loans. Our debt counselors know that it’s frustrating to deal with all of them, but there is debt relief available for these loans. Consolidating student loans can be a good option for some borrowers, but they do need to be aware of all the pros and cons.
How do you know if you should consolidate your student loans?
Borrowers needing a lower monthly payment or facing several loans from multiple lenders may consider consolidation to simplify repayment. While consolidating student loans isn’t for everyone, it can be helpful for some consumers under certain circumstances. For example, if you’re struggling to make your student loan payments, but don’t qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, consolidation could make sense. (Only those who work at qualifying nonprofits or government agencies and have been made 120 consecutive payments on their student loans are eligible.)
Additionally, if you want a fixed interest rate rather than a variable one, you might consider consolidation. When you consolidate your student loans, all your loans are combined into one new loan with a fixed interest rate. This means your interest rate will stay the same throughout the duration of the loan. Variable interest rates can change, which can be frustrating for borrowers trying to pay off their loans.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Consolidating Student Loans
Consolidating your student loans can be a helpful way to manage your finances, but there are specific guidelines to follow for the best results. If you choose to go the consolidation route, here are a few things you should make sure you do! Firstly, do your research. Weigh the pros and cons of consolidation with other options, like refinancing or student loan forgiveness if you are eligible for either of those options. If you have private student loans and want to consolidate them, check your credit score. A higher credit score means better interest rates for consolidating private student loans. Here are the essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind: Let’s dig deeper.
Research: Before making any decisions, thoroughly investigate the advantages and disadvantages of consolidating versus other options like refinancing or seeking student loan forgiveness (if you qualify).
Check Your Credit Score (for Private Loans): If you’re thinking about consolidating private student loans, it’s essential to know where you stand credit-wise. A higher credit score typically leads to more favorable interest rates.
Ask Questions: Always communicate with your lender. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, seek clarification. It’s better to ask now than to face unexpected surprises down the road.
Stay Organized with Payments: Once your loans are consolidated, ensure you don’t miss any payments. Set up reminders or automatic transfers to keep on track. Remember, timely payments can help boost your credit score.
Avoid Rushing with a Low Credit Score (for Private Loans): If your credit score is below 600, it might not be the best time to consolidate, especially for private student loans. The interest rates offered might not be ideal, and there’s a risk your application might get declined.
Don’t Miss Payments: While this might seem obvious, it’s worth emphasizing. A single missed payment can negatively impact your credit score. With a consolidated loan, you might think it’s simpler since it’s just one payment, but always remain vigilant.
Don’t Commit Without Understanding: Ensure you fully grasp the terms and conditions before agreeing to anything. Loan terms can be complex, and it’s crucial to understand what you’re committing to.
Consolidating student loans can be a beneficial move, but it’s vital to approach it with caution and awareness. By following these do’s and don’ts, you can set yourself up for financial success and minimize potential pitfalls.
Student loans can be intimidating, but they’re not impossible to pay off. There are tons of options out there, it just takes some time to call around or search the internet. Calling a nonprofit credit counseling agency can be a good place to start. A credit counselor can help you come up with a workable budget for you to stick to while you pay off your student loans. All you have to do is call and ask!
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.