There is no doubt that while a college education is beneficial in that it offers a distinct advantage in the competitive job market, when it comes to paying the bills many people, both students and their parents, simply cannot see how they will be able to afford it. The tuition alone is unattainable for many, and add to this the cost of textbooks and dorm fees and the prospects are bleak indeed. As the price tag of higher education continues to climb, so does the demand from potential students for student loans. Once it is time to pay off the loan, many students find themselves unable to make the required monthly payments. The result is a vicious cycle of owing but not being quite able to pay. In order to bring down the cost of that student loan, many people opt to apply for debt loans.There are many types of financial agencies that specialize in consumer debt consolidation, and student loans fall directly under this category. Therefore, credit consolidation is a viable alternative for those looking to further decrease the interest rates that come with student loans.There are two types of student loans. The first is a federal loan, which have government financial backing. This means that these loans can be refinanced at low interest rates. The other type of student loan is private; they are usually unsecured and charge much higher interest rates than the federal ones. If a student has accumulated both kind of loans, it is important NOT to consolidate them into one lump sum. Instead, consolidate the federal ones and pay off the private ones first.In order to consolidate a student loan, applicants must meet several criteria. Generally, the applicant will have to have been out of school for a certain period of time. They must also apply while still under the grace period of the original loan, which is generally within half a year of finishing school (either by quitting or by graduating). Alternatively, former students may already be making payments on their loans.Remember that even though student loans are generally more lenient when it comes to payback than other types of loan, they will still have a direct effect on your credit score in the event that payments can not be made.If your loan debt goes over a certain percentage rate of your total income, you will receive a negative mark on any future credit assessments, which can lead to difficulty when the time comes to buy a house or apply for other loans.Some consolidation companies will offer people with student loans additional reduction programs. These programs can be very beneficial in that they set up on-time payments, offer automated direct debit payments, have savings in place when you make payments during your grace period, and also reduce the overall interest rate.When looking for a suitable company, keep in mind that not all consolidation companies are out to help you. Some are nothing more than elaborate scams, and it is important that you carefully consider a company and find out its background before applying for their services.