The benefits of a college or graduate school education are almost beyond expressing. Having been graduated lends one the self-confidence of a solid grounding in a discipline that can launch a career and open doors to a thoughtful life. That accomplishment can seem tarnished when accompanied by thousands of dollars of debt carried long after the degree has been framed.As time passes, managing student loan debt can seem insurmountable as life changes, and buying a home, affording transportation, raising a family, come into the game of life along with the requisite cash flow. Having different lenders, with different interest rates and terms of repayment, is at least a financial inconvenience, if not a financial disaster. Student loan consolidation with the best interest rates should be your next goal.Get a Good Rate and ConsolidateTo avoid ending up as a bad credit risk, wrecking the monthly budget, and sacrificing peace of mind, many graduates would benefit by consolidating their student loans. With student loan consolidation, a once monthly, affordable payment, at an interest rate that is comfortable, and a duration that is doable, can become a budget-saving, mind-easing reality.Calculating for ConsolidatingIf you have a number of private student loans, you will have to consolidate your student loans with a private consolidation lender. Your interest rate will be calculated based on a combining of the current prime rate, or other standard index, and an additional margin (or spread) determined by your credit rating (FICO).Five Tips to Qualify for the Best RateIf you do choose to consolidate your various student loans, you will want to do all within your power to qualify for the best rate. This could save you thousands of dollars over the duration of the loan. Following are five tips to assist you in achieving that goal.1. Credit ReportGet your credit reports from all three of big three credit bureaus (Experian, Trans Union, Equifax). This can be done for a reasonable fee over the Web. The rate for your student loan consolidation will be determined in part by your credit score.2. Weighted RateThen you need to figure the weighted average of your interest rate calculated over all of your student loans. The resulting calculation will give you a rating you will try to outdo while you shop. Calculators are available on the Web. Calculating your weighted rate is important to get a student consolidation loan at the best possible rate.3. Research LendersDo an online search in an effort to compile ten different lenders that specialize in student loan consolidations. Do not be tempted to restrict your search to less than that. Your chance for getting a good deal increases with the amount of lenders you research. Being lazy or lax can cost you thousands.4. Research LogStart a research log. As you hold one lender to the next, keep meticulous notes, maybe in Excel, that includes the lenders name, a name or contact there, useful phone numbers, rates that they publish, the quality of the website, and even record your gut feelings about the business.5. Five LendersYou are now ready to make applications with the top five on your list. Make sure the numbers are identical across all the five loan applications to facilitate your shopping. Do this with five, no less, or again, you are cheating yourself.So, knowing what interest rate you want to target, how well you do your research, how well you home in on the right offer, could all help lower your monthly payments by three figures, maybe more.