The OppLoans Guide to Consolidating Student Loan Debt

Student Loan Debt Consolidation

Congrats! You worked hard for years and now you’ve finally got that diploma in hand. But, as you certainly know, that Associates, Bachelors, or Master’s Degree wasn’t free. And if you’re one of the 71% of American students graduating from a four-year college, chances are you took out a loan (or rather multiple loans) to finance that education.[1]

If you have more than one student loan and you’re struggling to stay on top of all the various interest rates, terms, and due dates, there are options available to you.

One of the most common tools in the struggle against student loan debt is a “debt consolidation loan.” If you need to simplify your student loans, this could be the solution for you. But what is it and how do you start? This OppLoans “How-To” guide for consolidating your student loan debt is here to help.

Facts about Student Loan Debt

  • 40 million Americans owe money on their student loans.
  • $35,051 is the average individual amount of student loan debt.
  • $1.2 trillion is the total outstanding US student loan debt.
  • One out of four borrowers are delinquent or defaulting on their student loan(s).[1]

So What is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

A debt consolidation loan is a large loan that effectively combines multiple loans together into one single loan. This simplifies the repayment process because the borrower then has only one loan to pay off rather than many. And people with better credit might can sometimes secure a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than they were previously paying.

Taking out a debt consolidation loan can mean a much simpler, easier process for the borrower. However, it may also mean extending the life of the loan. And while that might mean lower monthly payments, it will probably mean you’re paying more on the loan overall.[2]

To learn more about the math behind debt consolidation, check our blog post, Debt Consolidation: The Movie!

What kinds of student loans can be consolidated?

It’s important to note that federal and private loans cannot be consolidated together.

Federal Loans

Most federal student loans can be consolidated. This includes:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans[2]

Private Loans

Requirements for consolidating private loans will vary from lender to lender. When engaging a lender or creditor to consolidate your private loans, you will want to make sure you understand all of the details, terms and conditions. Questions you will want to ask include:

  • Are there extra fees?
  • Are there pre-payment penalties?
  • Is the interest rate fixed or variable?[3]

Who should consider a Debt Consolidation Loan?

You may consider a debt consolidation loan if …

You have multiple loans. Debt consolidation loans only make sense if you have multiple student loans that you need to juggle.

You can’t afford your payments. If your monthly payments are too much for you, a consolidation loan can significantly lower your monthly bills (although, as a result, you can expect to be in debt longer).[4]

How can I get started consolidating my Federal Loans?

To consolidate your federal student loans, you’ll need to apply for a “Direct Consolidation Loan”. This can be done at StudentLoans.gov. There you’ll complete what’s known as the “Federal Direct Consolidate Loan Application and Promissory Note.”

There is no application fee and no pre-payment penalty.

If you have questions, contact the Loan Consolidation Information Call Center at 1-800-557-7392.2

How can I get started consolidating my Private Loans?

Since private loans cannot be consolidated with federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate these separately with a debt consolidation loan from a private lender. Borrowing money is always a very serious decision. Consult the OppLoans Guide to Safe Personal Loans for tips on how to evaluate lenders and make the right decision for you!

Will the student loan pain be over?

Yes! With determination, focus and commitment, you can conquer your student loan challenges. For help with Federal Loan issues, consult the US Department of Education Federal Student Aid website or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4FED-AID. For assistance with private loans, reach out to your lender directly. If you have complaints, contact the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau Student Loan Ombudsman or submit an online complaint form at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

Don’t worry, you can manage your student loans. You may just have to give it the old college try.

References:

  1. “A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2016” StudentLoanHero.com. Retrieved October 5, 2016 from https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/

  2. “Loan Consolidation” StudentAid.ed.gov. Retrieved October 5, 2016 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/consolidation

  3. “Consolidation Your Private Student Loans” AllTuition.com. Retrieved October 5, 2016 from https://www.alltuition.com/library/student-loan-repayment/lower-monthly-payments/private-student-loan-consolidation/

  4. Frank, Michael. “Student Loan Consolidation vs. Refinancing – Which Is Your Best Option.” Credible.com. Retrieved October 5, 2016 from https://www.credible.com/blog/student-loan-consolidation-vs-refinancing-which-is-your-best-option/