Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Student Loan Debt Consolidation

As with most debt, people are looking to simplify, simplify, simplify. This typically means combining debt to one low-interest payment. The answer for most college and postgraduate students is a student loan debt consolidation. The whole enterprise of student loan debt consolidation is wide and varied. A great many lending institutions, both private and federal, are out there waiting to lend a hand and a great deal of money.

When considering student loan debt consolidation, it would be wise to take it step by step. A very simple and useful first step would be in the direction of your college advisor’s or financial aid administrator’s office. You can begin the process by first finding out if student loan debt consolidation is in your best interest, and if so, where and how to start.

Qualifications for student loan debt consolidation must be the first consideration. There are some basic guidelines to follow:

1. Students NOT enrolled more than half-time, or students out of school for 3-6 months.

2. Students in grace period (up to 6 months after leaving school), or with existing loans in deferment or default status.

3. Students with no previous consolidation loans.

Of course, there are exceptions and instances where these general qualifications for student loan debt consolidation will not apply, especially in the case of some postgraduate programs.

When applying for a consolidation loan, another basic consideration is to weigh the differences between federal (a.k.a. direct) consolidation loans as opposed to private consolidation loans. These two types of student loan debt consolidation programs differ mainly in terms of interest rates and credit ratings.

Federal student loan debt consolidation requires that the applicant have at least one Direct or Federal loan outstanding, such as a Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL). Currently, the interest rate on federal loans is based on the average of the loans being consolidated. Once the interest rate is calculated it is fixed for the life of the loan.

Private student loan debt consolidation interest rates can range from the current prime lending rate to whatever the loan institution sees fit, based on credit rating. Those who apply for this kind of loan must have a good credit rating or provide a cosigner with one.

Student loan debt consolidation will take a degree (forgive the pun) of due diligence and patience to complete. But in some cases it may decrease your student loan payments up to half and simplify your life by even more. The length of consolidation loans can span from 10-25 years, with extended plans available from 15-30 years. On the bright side, the interest paid on most student loans and/or student loan debt consolidation is tax deductible.

In the "big picture" of life an education is a priceless commodity. Knowledge is power and with that power great things can be accomplished.

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