07.12.13 | Pros and Cons of Private Student Loan Consolidation

Congratulations on finally finishing college.  While it’s great to be working and living on your own, you now get to pay your own bills (and yes, now you finally understand why your parents always yelled at you for taking more than 10 minutes in the shower).  Amongst these bills, the most pressing may be those student loan repayment letters that start to arrive all too soon after graduation.  With student loan debt averaging out to $23,000 per borrower, you could end up paying $200 per month for the next 15 years!

Fortunately, there is an alternative: college loan consolidation. Student loan consolidation enables you to lower your monthly payments and pay back your loan over a longer period of time. To give you a better idea, let’s explore the pros and cons of consolidating your student loans. (more…)

03.18.13 | Can You Refinance Student Loans?

You can refinance your mortgage, but can you refinance your student loans? The short answer is: possibly. Let me elaborate.

Refinancing is a tool commonly used by borrowers in the housing industry to lower interest rates. In regards to student loans, refinancing options are not widely available and depend on the type of loan you have.

Consolidating Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans (such as Stafford Loans) are not able to be refinanced but they can be consolidated. For federal loans, you must consolidate them through a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan which determines your new interest rate as a weighted average. Unfortunately, weighted averages do nothing to lower your rate.

However, there are still some benefits to consolidating your loans, such as:

  • It lowers your monthly payment by extending the term of the loan
  • It makes managing your repayment easier by combing multiple federal loans into one

Probably not the answer you were hoping for, but consolidation can be helpful to those struggling with high monthly payments.
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10.29.12 | 8 Ways to Keep Student Loans from Haunting you

Posted in Consolidation, Repayment, Student Credit, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Student loans can be scary! Paying off thousands in debt is no easy task, and repayment can creep up on you if you don’t have a plan. So to keep you on track, here are 8 ways you can keep your loans at bay.

1. Know who you owe

With lenders buying and selling loans, the first step to know where your loans are. For federal student loans, borrowers can track their servicer information through NSLDS.ed.gov. Your loan servicer will be your main contact for making payments and for the day-to-day handling of your federal loans.

For private loans, you should consult their original loan paperwork. If this is not an option, request your free credit report. Your credit report will list all of your creditors, including private loan lenders.

2. Keep in touch

Now that you know who you owe, stay in touch. At the first sign of repayment trouble, contact your lender to discuss your options. Ask about different repayment plans, or if deferment or forbearance options are available.
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10.08.12 | How to Refinance your Student Loans

Posted in Consolidation, Private Student Loans, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

When students take out private student loans for the first time, they usually have little to no credit history built up. This means, their interest rates probably weren’t ideal, or they applied with a cosigner. If you’re one of these borrowers with high interest rates, refinancing (consolidating) your student loans could save you money, especially if your credit has improved over time!

Refinancing student loans can be great for borrowers with high interest rates, or even who need to lower their monthly payments. To get started, here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Do Some Research

There are a few different banks and lenders that are available to consolidate student loans. Compare your student loan refinancing options to see the different benefits and find which loan is right for you.

Step 2: Calculate your Potential Savings

Student Loan Consolidation CalculatorThe consolidation payment calculator at StudentLoanConsolidator.com can provide a good estimate of the amount you can save on your monthly payments by refinancing your student loans. Keep in mind that any calculator you use is an estime and to find out your actual interest rate and monthly payment, you’ll need to start the application process.
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09.28.12 | 5 Reasons to Consolidate your Student Loans

Pile of Bills

1. Easier Repayment

If you have loans from many different lenders, staying on top of your payments can be tough. Consolidation can help to streamline the repayment process, so you only need to send one check, to one lender (two if you have both federal and private loans).

2. Better Discounts

Many lenders offer student loan discounts for a variety of situations. Discounts can include interest rate reductions for setting up automatic payments, or even for being a current customer of that bank. If your loan does not have any incentives like this, then consolidation may save you some money.
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03.28.12 | It’s almost graduation – Do you know where your student loans are?

Girl with binocularsWith graduation right around the corner for many-a-senior, the thoughts that occupy the minds of future grads probably revolve more around finals and parties than around repaying their loans. While graduation is absolutely a time for celebrating accomplishments, it also means that loan repayment is looming. Start planning now so that when the time comes, you’re ready and not scrambling to locate your loan paperwork.

Here are five ways you can prepare for repayment right now:

1. Locate your loans

This may sound simpler than it is. Many students lose track of their loans while in school. Whether due to neglect or the buying/selling of private loans, students can have a hard time tracking down who they owe. If you have federal loans (this includes Stafford, PLUS, Perkins) you can log in to NSLDS.ed.gov and find out all of your loan information, including who services the loan. Yes, the Department of Education outsources loan servicing, so while you may have a Direct Stafford loan, your payments may need to go to Great Lakes, for example. If you need to track down your private loans, request a copy of your credit report. This will list all of your loan lenders, plus it’s always good to know how your credit stands.
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02.10.12 | Special Direct Consolidation Loans

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation, Repayment, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Merging money street signIn a recent State of the Union Address, President Obama mentioned a Special Direct Consolidation Loan available to some borrowers with federal loans. This loan is not your typical Direct Consolidation Loan, and is only available for a brief period this year. This is a great opportunity for borrowers with the old, FFEL loans, as it will make managing repayment a much simpler task. Let’s take a look at how this loan works.

Background

First, let’s understand a little bit about historical student loans. Before Direct Loans came into play, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program included four types of loans: Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation. These loans, while still federally guaranteed loans, were made by private lenders and serviced privately. Now under the Direct Loan Program, federal loans are funded directly through the government (though there are four companies who service the loan on behalf of the Dept. of Education).
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11.10.11 | Your college funding roadmap

Posted in Consolidation, Financial Aid, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Financial Aid RoadmapLet’s face it, financial aid is not the easiest process to understand. Keeping track of state, federal, and private deadlines is tough enough, forget all of the other research that goes into funding your education. To help you navigate the process, we’ve compiled a financial aid roadmap.

This infographic takes you from childhood, to graduation, and helps you remember the important financial aid dates. To get started on your college funding plan, or to make sure you’re on track, check it out!

 

View the Financial Aid Roadmap

11.09.11 | Financial Aid Basics

Posted in Consolidation, FAFSA, Financial Aid, financial aid tips, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Financial Aid 101 eBookJanuary is quickly approaching, and you know what that means? FAFSA season. Filing your FAFSA is a critical step in the financial aid process. However, if you have never applied for financial aid before, everything can get overwhelming, and fast! This is why you should know your options beforehand. You can then apply directly to a loan lender.

Major types of financial aid:

  • Private scholarships and grants
  • Federal grants (Pell, Academic Competitiveness Grant, SMART, FSEOG)
  • Federal student loans (Stafford, Parent PLUS, Graduate PLUS, Perkins Loans)
  • Federal work study
  • Private Student Loans

How to apply:

Scholarships and grants
Private scholarships and grants have individual applications and deadlines. While the application process can be time-consuming, every little bit helps!

Federal aid
The FAFSA is your application for all of the federal types of financial aid listed above. Students need to submit it starting January 1st of each year, and the sooner you file, the better!

Private loans
If you’ve exhausted your scholarship and federal aid resources, then it’s time to apply for a private loan. Each lender will have different interest rates and benefits, so it helps to compare your loan options to find what’s best for you.

For more information on the different types of financial aid and for a helpful financial aid calendar, check out our Financial Aid 101 eBook.

09.01.11 | Contacting your Student Loan Lender

Posted in Consolidation, Graduate Loans, Private Student Loans, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

If you borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from someone, knowing you would eventually have to pay them back, more than likely over several years, you would think the person from whom you borrowed would be a high priority. But amazingly, the vast majority of people who borrow thousands of dollars in student loans have no idea who their lender is.

Now granted, if you are still in school, it really doesn’t matter. Your lender only comes into play around repayment time. But if you have recently graduated college and are interested in consolidation or deferment, you may have to contact your lender. So let’s talk about how to do that.

If you have a federal student loan, such as Stafford, Perkins or PLUS, you can visit the National Student Loan Data System and enter your four-digit PIN number that you received when you filled out your FAFSA. If you don’t know your PIN, contact the Department of Education at 800.433.3242.

If you have a private student loan, you can either contact your school’s financial aid office, or request a copy of your credit report from Free Credit Report, which will list your outstanding loans and lenders.