Having to make payments can really eat into any extra money you have left over each month after paying all of your other living expenses. Sure, you are required to pay them back. But you also have to be able to afford your regular expenses that allow you to maintain a roof over your head, eat, buy gasoline and even pay for the occasional doctor’s visit.Most college and graduate school grads carry $10,000s in loans, with many carrying well over one hundred thousand dollars in debt. And, many of those who have loans actually have many in their name. When a person has to make multiple payments each month, that means different payment amounts are due on different days – a confusing mess.One solution that many grads with debt use to lower their monthly payments: loan consolidation. This can also be thought of as refinancing your debt.How Refinancing A Student Loan Is Different Than Refinancing A MortgageHowever, refinancing a student loan is a bit different than refinancing a mortgage. That is because, with student consolidation loans, you are essentially combining multiple loans into a single loan. And you are able to spread out your payments over a longer period of time – which reduces your monthly payment amounts.Meanwhile, when you refinance a mortgage, you are usually only refinancing a single, existing mortgage loan. And, in the case of a mortgage, usually you are exchanging one 30-year mortgage for another. Thus, unlike with student loan refinancing, in the case of mortgage refinancing the only way to reduce your payments is to find a lower-interest loan.A Consolidation Loan: Refinance Your Student LoanThat is why loan consolidation can be such a great way to reduce your payments. Depending upon the type of loans you have – federal or private – the interest rate for your new loan is calculated differently.For example, if you are wanting to consolidate federal student loan debt, your consolidation interest rate is calculated as the weighted average (including outstanding principal amount and interest rates) of all existing loans, rounded up to the nearest 0.125%.On the other hand, if you need to consolidate private student loan debt, your new interest rate will be calculated based upon either the Prime Rate or the LIBOR, plus an additional number of interest points determined largely by your current credit score.How To ConsolidateIf you currently have federal student loans such as Federal Perkins, HEAL, Stafford, PLUS, FFELP and Direct, you will need to fill out an application for a federal student loan consolidation. You can find these applications on the U.S. Department of Education website or with a quick Internet search.To refinance and consolidate a private loan, you should first contact at least 5 private student loan consolidation companies. Do your research on each company, using their website and any other available materials. Your goal should be to see if they have any special programs going.Once you have found 3 lenders that you like, fill out an application for all of them. You will want to make sure to receive offers from each one. Only by comparing multiple offers can you be sure you are getting the best-possible interest rate.
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