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
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.
Unfortunately, if your credit score is less than stellar (below 600) and you have private student loans, don’t consolidate just yet. Chances are, your interest rate won’t be very good, and that’s assuming you get approved for the consolidation loan at all. Instead, you may want to spend a few months building up your credit score before you apply for a consolidation loan. Do ask your lender questions if you have any. You don’t want to agree to anything you don’t understand and have that come back to haunt you later.
When you start making payments on your new loan, don’t miss any payments! Like any other loan, missing payments can hurt your credit score. In theory, one loan should be easier to keep track of than the multiple loans you had before they were consolidated, but mistakes can happen if you aren’t careful. Put a calendar reminder in your phone if that helps you remember when your student loan payment is due.
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.