Anyone with student loans receives lots of offers in the mail from lenders seeking to consolidate your student loans. To learn more about this option, read below for my last tip in a series of “Seven Smart Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Fast.” Read also Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip #4, Tip #5 and Tip #6.
Tip #7: If you consolidate your loans, do so wisely.
Be careful which loans you roll into one bigger loan. For instance, let’s say you took out federal Perkins loans while you were in school. In most cases, you wouldn’t want to combine a Perkins loan with other types of loans. The reason: Perkins loans have better “loan forgiveness” benefits for people who go into teaching, and you can lose those benefits if you consolidate them.
Also, you’ll have to keep your private loans and federal loans separate; you can’t consolidate those two groups of loans.
The major advantage of consolidating student loans is that your monthly payment will be reduced, freeing up some of your cash flow each month. You can even put the extra cash saved each month toward a higher interest rate loan in order to pay it off faster.
The biggest drawback is that, because consolidated loans are stretched out over a longer repayment period – up to 30 years, you’ll wind up paying two to three times as much as you would’ve paid had you not consolidated your loans.
Bonus Tip: For more info on loan consolidation, visit: http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov. For more information on paying off your student loans, check out my book Zero Debt for College Grads: From Student Loans to Financial Freedom.