Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding The Best Student Loan Consolidation Programs

By Trinity Tolbert

By the time you finish college, it is more than likely that you will have several loans. Four or more years of loan debt can leave you with several repayments to different loan agencies. In most situations, you are required to apply for a new loan each year and depending on your financial status, you might qualify for loans with different interest rates. Consolidating your loans into one loan can help save you time and money.

There are a few advantages to consolidating your loans. It will save you money because instead of having several loan payments, you will have one payment monthly that is lower. You will most likely also be able to lock in a lower interest rate overall by consolidating. It will save you time because you will have fewer bills to pay monthly and less paperwork.

One thing you will want to verify is that you are truly getting a better interest rate by consolidating your loans. Some government loans offer really low interest rates, but if they are variable rates and not fixed rates, then you might see those rates rise. This is another smart reason to consolidate loans; it allows you to lock in the interest rate so it is not affected by future rate fluctuations.

If you have government loans, watch to make sure that the interest rate you are offered for consolidation is actually lower than the interest rate on each loan. On occasion, loans issued by the government can have really low interest rates, especially those offered based on need. If you have a loan that is at a lower interest rate than the consolidation interest rate, you will probably want to leave that loan out of the consolidation to save yourself money. There are four main refinancing options usually available when you consolidate loans. The first option is the standard repayment plan where you make monthly payment plans on a fixed interest rate over a period of ten years to thirty years, depending of the type of consolidation refinance program and lender you choose. The second option is the extended repayment plan where your payments are less than payments under the Standard Repayment Plan, with repayment periods ranging from twelve to thirty years, depending on the total amount that you have borrowed.

Third, there is the option of the graduated repayment plan. Repayment on this plan is also twelve to thirty years depending on how much you owe, but it is different in that the monthly payment starts out lower and increases every two years.

So the best student loan consolidation program really depends on what works best for you and your situation. Consolidating your student loans might be one of the greatest graduation gifts you can give yourself.

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