Consolidating Student Loans With a Low Interest Rate – 3 Steps

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College students who are paying for their education with student loans have the luxury of completely forgetting about having to pay back their loans. That is because they are not required to pay back the loans while in school, allowing them to focus on more important things like earning good grades, partying or both (depending on the student!).However, with graduation comes the rude awakening that they have tens or hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. After the short post-graduation grace period for the loan ends, the student is sent his or her first repayment invoice. Many students experience initial sticker-shock at seeing this invoice, but soon they settle into the grim reality that they will have to be making these payments for many years to come.As time progresses, most grads face the occasional cash-flow crunch. This crunch is usually brought on by the realities of life for anyone in their 20s and 30s, including the need to get an apartment, buy a home, get married, and start a carrier.Unfortunately, the student loan lenders are not very understanding on the months when you have trouble paying your loans. They want to be paid each and every month, without fail.The Burden Of Having Multiple Student LoansThings can be compounded even more if you have taken out multiple student loans. Having multiple loans translates to making more than one payment each month. Usually, the loans have different interest rates, and some even may be variable-rate loans while others are fixed. Also, the loans could have different terms or repayment schedules, such as 5, 10 or 15 years.What Loan Consolidation Can Mean To YouFor those grads who are having trouble managing multiple student loan payments or who just don’t like having to deal with multiple outstanding loans, consolidating student loans may be the answer.Consolidation essentially involves paying off all of your existing loans under a new loan offered at a fixed interest rate. Usually, you also have the option to spread out your repayment schedule over more time (say, 20 or 30 years), which reduces the amount of your monthly payments but increases the total cost of the loan in the long run.If you currently hold federal student loans such as PLUS, HEAL, and Direct loans, federal student loan consolidation is the way to go. On the other hand, if your loans were all issued from private lenders, you will want private loan consolidation.Consolidating Student Loans With A Low Interest Rate: 3 StepsOf course, if you are consolidating, you are going to want to lowest-possible interest rate. Here are 3 steps to getting the best rate:1. Calculate your current weighted average interest rate across all loans: To know whether any offers you get are worth taking, start by calculating your current interest rate. This will be the weighted average of the interest rate of each current loan you have. Write down this interest rate figure since you will need to refer to it later.2. Research your credit score with all three of the Big 3 credit bureaus: Next, you are going to want to know your credit score if you plan to do private loan consolidation, since your new interest rate will be based in part upon your credit. Be sure to check with all three of the major bureaus since scores vary.3. Research and apply to at least 5 private consolidation lenders: It is human nature to get a bit lazy and want to accept the first offer than comes along. But, to increase your chances of getting the best-possible interest rate, be sure to research and apply to at least 5 consolidation lenders. After all, it may be the 5th lender you apply to that offers you an interest rate that saves you tens of thousands over the life of your new loan.If consolidating your student loan is in your future, follow these 3 steps to get yourself a low interest rate.