There's something about credit card money or student loan money that people find hard to take seriously. You're young when you take on student loans; it's hard to really get a feeling for how difficult money usually is to make. The $20,000 or $30,000 that you take on can easily seem like Monopoly money. All you need to do is get on the Sally Mae website, fill in a simple form and wait for the money. Shortly before graduation, when you begin applying for jobs all around, and you begin to see how tough it can be to make a decent salary, that's when it sinks in - you have to pay about $300 every month. At least three out of four people entering college leave at the end with some kind of massive student loan. It's a major problem. One of the first things that can occur to anyone struggling with a clutch of seven or eight student loans is this - student loan debt consolidation.
Doing this can really lower your payments in a way that can make all the difference to a struggling young graduate. Not only does it simplify everything to have one or two loans to pay instead of seven or eight, it can actually make it cheaper every month. Every loan comes with a high minimum payment. Bring everything together under consolidated loan and you have to pay just one minimum payment. And then of course, there's the hope that consolidating helps lower your interest rates and helps lower your payment in general by stretching out your repayment period.
Not every student loan debt consolidation package works that way though. To begin with, federal student loans come with fixed interest rates these days. This means that with federal loans, student loan debt consolidation doesn't really lower your rate that all. It only simplifies things and it could help stretch your repayment period out (although you'll have ended up paying thousands of dollars more in interest by the time you've paid everything down).
You should only consider student loan debt consolidation plans if you're having a great deal of trouble making your payments right now -in the hope that things will improve in the future. Because while any kind of consolidation you take on will certainly lower your monthly payments, you really will end up paying dearly in the end in added interest.
Starting in 2009, borrowers have been able to opt for what is known as an income-based plan. They work out a certain percentage of your salary that you need to pay every month. They don't charge you a fixed sum. The good news is that you don't need to have opted for such a plan going in. You could opt for an income-based plan at any stage. The great part here is that when you do this, you reset the clock on your repayments; you get a fresh 25 years.
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By Melain Earcher