We have covered a wide range of options for dealing with the struggle of student loans… believe me – the struggle has never been more real. If student loans have got you down, you have a few different options – you can:
- pay them all off immediately (unrealistic)
- pay the minimum amount every month (which could be any combination of interest/principal payments, for the entire duration of the loan which could be years and years and years)
- consolidate your loans
- refinance your loans
- consolidate AND refinance your loans
- apply for income-based or income-contingent repayment plans
- check your eligibility for loan forgiveness programs
- apply for deferral or forbearance
If you have only US Federal Student Loans, you can only consolidate those loans with the government. You would have to go to a private company to refinance such loans.
If you have private student loans, you can consolidate and/or refinance those loans with private lenders.
Consolidation is probably a better fit for you if you have multiple loans (particularly US government loans), if you want to extend the duration of your loan, or if you want to become eligible for an income-based repayment plan.
Refinancing is a better option if you want to lower the cost of the loan overall (and your monthly payments), if you want to secure a lower interest rate or (even better) a lower, fixed interest rate.
Generally, if you have student loans with relatively high interest rate, you should be thinking about refinancing (and potentially consolidating) to get a better interest rate. If you have multiple student loans, be strategic – don’t consolidate lower interest rate loans where you may lose the benefits and advantageous interest rate, while increasing the duration of your loan (and therefore paying more).
Don’t be afraid to tackle separate student loans individually – you don’t need to choose only one of the options above – you can mix and match to your liking – be strategic!
Don’t forget to call your student loan servicer – they will be able to talk through your options relevant to your specific loans.
Questions? Comments? Let me know here!
Sincerely yours in harmonious fun and fiscal responsibility,