Updated November 17, 2017
Does it seem like you’re constantly paying bills? Maybe you’re able to keep up with the amount you owe and yet it seems like you’re paying a new bill every single day.
Or are you someone who feels like you’re drowning in debt? Maybe the bills are piling up and it’s getting more and more difficult to make your income stretch.
It wasn’t supposed to be complicated. “I have a degree!” you exclaim.
Well, guess what? It’s actually not that complicated, but very few graduates know about student loan consolidation.
The good news is that you can actually regain your peace of mind without this growing gray cloud of debt following you along.
Let’s go over some options for you to help you consider whether student loan consolidation is right for you.
A Few Student Loans: What’s the Big Deal?
Before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about how you ended up here.
You probably didn’t know exactly how you were going to pay for it all when you decided to go to school for a degree.
So you figured out that you could get a few loans to help you pay for part of it. Or maybe you weren’t able to pay for any of your education at all and had to max out on student loans.
Maybe you intended to pay your way by working, but didn’t earn enough to save. Or saved some, but not enough.
Or maybe you weren’t able to work as much as you wanted to or couldn’t find work.
Focusing on your education was the priority and you simply weren’t making enough money to keep up.
It should come as no surprise to you that funding an education can be a difficult task. In the amount of time it took you to obtain your degree, you likely spent a lot more money than you were able to make during that time.
Everyone Can Afford a Public College, Right?
When you signed for your first student loan you may have assumed that you wouldn’t need more money to complete your education. Then your situation changed, and it turned out that you needed more money along the way.
It’s likely that you lost track of all the different loans you obtained in order to get your degree. It’s amazing how these loans can pile up.
Whether you decide to explore student loan consolidation or still haven’t even decided to go down the education path, you’d be wise to bookmark the website for the U.S. Department of Education, which thoroughly outlines the specifics of student loans, grants, laws, and free downloads of the latest education-related data.
Student Loan Consolidation: Where to Start
Once you go through student loan consolidation, you’ll only have one bill each month – at a lower interest rate than if you were still paying all your loans separately. Student loan consolidation will also help you to create a payment plan that works for you and your current situation. When you acquired all of your loans you only had a vague idea of what type of job you would obtain after graduation. Even if you knew specifically what job you wanted and you obtained that job after graduation, you didn’t know the specifics. Your future salary, location of your job, and living situation were all in the air at the time you acquired your loans. Now that you’re established and know the amount of money you have to work with, it’s easier to determine how much money you have to pay towards your student loan debt. With student loan consolidation, you will use this information to make a plan that works for you – and surprisingly, student loan consolidation is typically arranged by enterprises who have the knowhow to hat help you all of your loans under one loan, with a lower interest rate than all of your loans put together … so, not only do you simplify your loan payback strategy, you save money too.
Don’t Go Buy a Ferrari… Yet!
Try to budget as much money as possible to pay down your student loans. Pay off as much as you can before you consolidate. Make sure you have enough each month to put towards a consolidated loan. You will want to pay off your student loan debt as soon as possible so it doesn’t hold you back from obtaining a loan for other important purchases in your life. An Office of the U.S. Department of Education, StudentLoans.gov, provides additional information on the smartest options to go about managing loans, including a payment calculator, articles of how other have dealt with debt, and additional for both parents and students alike.
Federal Student Aid: a Single Monthly Payment
Consider looking into a consolidation loan that is backed by the federal government. These types of loans work well with the original loans you may have acquired through the government.
They are also designed to help new graduates make paying back their debt possible with better interest rates that are lower than private loans may be.
There’s also the option to obtain a fixed interest rate, which can help take the guesswork out of paying back a loan. As unsettling as this might sound, there are occasionally scam artists that prey on students in debt. If you have any doubts whatsoever about the legitimacy of the advice you’re receiving, contact the Federal Trade Commission, whose Consumer Information Student Loans publication will verify any information you receive.
Once you’ve settled on a student loan consolidation that works for you, set up automatic payments.
Make sure that you don’t miss a payment, which could jeopardize the great rate you negotiated when you secured your student loan consolidation.
And do your homework; as cynical is this may be, there are scam artists who will deceive students, and sneak in their own fees that negate your savings.
Also, consider making extra payments to lower the amount you owe. Simply consolidating all of your student loan debt will provide a great deal of relief and help you achieve other financial goals you have set for yourself.
Don’t wait too long to start looking at your options. You can start saving money today.