How to Reduce Your Student Loan Payments

Student loans make higher education possible for many; however, repaying those loans can be difficult when you are first starting out. Refinancing and consolidating your student load debts will not only lower your monthly payment, it could also save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.

When you neglect to pay on your student loan, the account becomes delinquent. After nine months of neglect, your loan goes into default. If you have a federal loan, the Department of Education will then take measures to collect payment on the loan. They can garner your wages and take your tax return checks. Not only is it embarrassing to try to explain to a future employer why your wages are being garnished, but this will also have an adverse effect on your credit. Even private education loans will affect your credit if not paid on time.

Consolidating or refinancing can help you avoid the stress, embarrassment and poor credit score. Many financial institutions will happily allow you to refinance your loans for a lower interest rate, especially if your payment history is adequate.

Before you begin, it is important to understand the different loan options and what your current loan company can offer you.

Refinancing Your Student Loan

The first option is to apply for a lower interest rate. When considering this option, think about how much you owe, how long it will take you to pay it off and your current job stability. If you’re close to paying off your loan, you may not get as much benefit from refinancing as you would if you were just starting to repay the loan. Also check with your local lending companies, credit unions and banks to see if they can offer a better interest rate than the original lending company.

If you have both federal and private or personal student loans, it’s typically best to refinance them separately. Federal student loans are structured so that you can get a much lower interest rate than you can on a private loan.

Loan Consolidation

Another method to lower monthly debt is loan consolidation. This allows you to take two or more loans and combine them into one new, bigger loan with a fixed interest rate. You can work with any lender you choose, and there are usually no loan consolidation fees. The financial institution pays off your existing loan balances and replaces them with a single loan, allowing you make just one monthly payment. Both students and parents can consolidate education loans; however, only loans from the same borrower can be consolidated. This also applies to married couples. Their individual education loans must remain separate.

Also you should be aware that students cannot consolidate education loans while they are still in school. Before consolidating, check out all the pros and cons; investigate the cost of paying back your original loans against the cost of paying for a consolidated loan.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Loan forgiveness programs are also available to graduates. These programs are meant to eliminate or reduce student loans if the student chooses a career in a public service area such as teaching, medicine, law, military, and even some volunteer work. These programs can eliminate anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000 in student loans. There are hundreds of loan forgiveness programs available. Check within your industry to see what is available and how you can apply.

Before you refinance, consolidate or apply for a forgiveness program, consider any special features of your original loans. Borrower benefits such as absolution for public service work, forbearance for financial adversity, and certain interest rate discounts and rebates might be lost if you make a change.

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