Federal Loan Consolidation for Medical Students

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By the time you graduate you will most likely have at least $200,000.00 in student loan debt. After interest is added you could be paying a total of over $500,000.00, so it is extremely important to make sure you are getting the best deal possible with your loan consolidation. You will probably have both federal and private loans but for this article we will be dealing with only your federal loans.Loan forgiveness -The first thing to look into is if you will be eligible for any loan forgiveness, you don’t want to lose your eligibility by not knowing what is required. In general you have to practice in a facility that serves low income people for a number of years but the conditions do vary by state. Check with your state’s department of education for the specific rules.
With Stafford loans it doesn’t matter if you’ve consolidated the loans or not, they can be forgiven either way. With Perkins loans you lose any chance of forgiveness if you consolidate them so you should check into it before deciding to add them to a consolidation.
The National Health Service Corps offers loan forgiveness programs for physicians who agree to serve a certain number of years in areas that lack adequate medical care. Many hospitals and private care facilities offer loan repayment as an employment incentive for medical personnel.Deferral and forbearance -When you graduate and go into your residency or fellowship your loans will be switched to repayment status and you will have to make payment arrangements. Since most students in residency or fellowships do not make that much money they want put off making their payments. All federal loans come with the benefit of three years of forbearance and three years of deferral. In deferral the government pays the interest on the subsidized portion of your loans, in forbearance you are responsible for all of the interest. You must qualify for deferral, some fellowships qualify but since residency is considered employment the only option there is if you can show an economic hardship. In general your loan payments must exceed 20% of your disposable income to qualify for economic hardship.One of the benefits to consolidation is your deferral and forbearance time is renewed. This can be important to a medical student looking at a long residency, in that case you would want to wait to consolidate until you have used all of your deferral time so you can have three more years of it. It is important to remember that you are gathering interest during this time on all but the subsidized portion of any loans in deferral, the costs can really add up. Most lenders will allow you to make payments as you can during deferral and forbearance, if you think you will be able to offset your costs by paying anything during this time make sure your lender will accept payments when you are considering a consolidation company.Capitalizing interest -When choosing a consolidation company ask how often they capitalize interest during your deferral or forbearance period. A company that capitalizes quarterly will cost you more in the long run than a company that capitalizes yearly.A student loan consolidation can save you thousands of dollars in interest but you must choose your company wisely. Ask questions before you decide who to consolidate with. Know how much you will be paying in total.

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