Student Loan Consolidation — April 2010, reviewed January 2013

Student loan debt is a major financial issue for many.  Those graduating from post-secondary training may be thinking about the upcoming loan payments and whether they should consider consolidating.

Federal student loan consolidation allows you to combine one or more federal student loans into a new loan.  Private loans can be consolidated but they cannot be consolidated with federal loans.  With consolidation, you will have one lender and one monthly bill, making it easier to manage. 

You can no longer consolidate federal student loans while you are enrolled in school.  You can, however, consolidate any loans that are currently in your grace period, which is 6 months from the date you graduated, in repayment or deferment.  So the optimal time to be looking into consolidation is soon after graduation.

If the student loans are from private lenders, they may have a consolidation option available, too.  However, be sure note if they charge origination fees to process the loan.  These could be substantial so make sure the benefit of consolidation doesn’t outweigh this cost!

Find out more about federal student loan consolidation at http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov/.   Another of good information source about dealing with debt is Legal Aid.  Review the fact sheet on Student Loan Problems at www.lawhelpmn.org/issues/consumer-and-debt/student-loans-and-mortgage-loans

Student loan debt shouldn’t be ignored.  It needs to be paid or dealt with because there are long-term consequences.