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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03.22.11 | From our Archives: Consolidation

Posted in Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

For students about to graduate, you may want to check out the article New Grads, Start Thinking About Consolidation. This will give you helpful tips on why consolidation can be a good option.

Conversely, the article What NOT to do when Consolidating your Student Loans tells you just that. It provides useful information on the types of situations where consolidation might not be the best option.

While consolidation for federal loans is usually a good idea, it may not be so black and white with private loans. In the current economy, private lenders have been reluctant to grant consolidation loans. Should I Consolidate my Private Student Loans can help students to decide how and where to go to consolidate their private loans.

Still have questions about consolidation? This post may be able to help. From Our Forums: Consolidation Question Quartet! answers a few common questions about consolidating federal loans. Maybe it’ll answer yours. If not, you can always check out the Financial Aid Forum’s consolidation help section.

Hopefully these articles will proves useful in the upcoming months. Remember, if you need more information regarding loan consolidation, visit StudentLoanConsolidator.com.

05.19.10 | Graduating? Consider student loan consolidation.

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

It’s that time of the year again folks; the end of finals for the Class of [insert this year here]. If you’re part of the graduating class, you likely have your Commencement soon or have already taken the walk of glory to get your degree. Congratulations!

This post is devoted to you (yes, you!) to make sure that you start off your life as a degree holder right, with as little financial confusion or anxiety as possible. To get started, I recommend you take a second to read my blog post on exit counseling.

Once you have chosen your repayment plan, it is time to consider your current financial picture. Do you have a full-time job lined up already? If not, are you working part-time? (more…)

04.27.10 | From Our Forums: Consolidation Question Quartet!

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

There was a great question in our loan consolidation forum this week from a new user with lots of loans from medical school. James recently finished his Master’s degree as a physician assistant (congratulations!) and wrote to us looking for some consolidation advice:

I have the following types of federal loans:

  1. Subsidized Stafford
  2. Unsubsidized Stafford
  3. Grad PLUS
  4. Previously consolidated federal loans from my Bachelor’s in Nursing (’97-’01)

My questions are as follows:

  1. Can I consolidate the above 4 types of loans together?
  2. When should I consolidate? Before or after July 1st? Does it matter? (Grad school was from 8/07 – 12/09)
  3. Who can consolidate? Are there any options now other then the federal government? Will there be lower interest options in the future?
  4. I’ve read about the PLUS loan loophole. Should I consolidate my PLUS loans separately to save 0.25%?

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04.23.10 | So When Should I Consolidate?

Posted in Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

If you are about to enter your grace period, you might be wondering when exactly you should consider consolidating your federal student loans. For many seniors at four-year schools, they will be among the last to consider the variable interest rates for federal loan consolidation.

Currently, consolidation interest rates are projected to decrease slightly on July 1, 2010, so my suggestion would be to wait until early June, when the rates are officially announced, before consolidating.  Remember, this ONLY applies to borrowers who secured variable loans before July 1, 2006.  Federal loans taken out after that date are subject to a fixed model. If you have any questions about student loan consolidation, visit our forums!

04.20.10 | Have a Consolidation Question?

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

If you aren’t already familiar with our Financial Aid Forum, it is an awesome resource for answering questions about virtually every kind of financial aid or loan a student can take out toward their education.

We have three dedicated Student Advocates (myself included) that are available Monday-Friday to help out and an informed user base of several hundred people. Between all of us, your question will be answered quickly and accurately (generally within a day or two).

Also, we have a great loan consolidation FAQ page that might be able to immediately answer any questions or concerns you have about the process.

As always, thanks for reading and make a post in our forum if you need help!

04.06.10 | From Our Forum: Can I Consolidate Again?

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

Based on a great question from our Financial Aid Forum, I’d like to take a second today to talk about multiple loan consolidations.

Our reader asks:

I have new federal loans and old federal loans. I consolidated my old federal loans to a private company (great lakes) several years ago. Can I consolidate my new federal loans and my old loans that I consolidated once may years ago into one loan now? If so how do I do this and what would the rates be like currently for this type of consolidation. My new federal loans were disrupted after 2006 and my old loans which I consolidated in 2002 are at a rate of 3.25%. (more…)

04.02.10 | How to Graduate Grace-fully

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

Attention seniors, you’re now just weeks away from graduating college and taking that first step into the real world.  It’s an exciting time, but you have to make sure you are financially secure, especially when it comes to paying off your student loans. The vast majority of people who default on their loans do so in the first two years after graduation.

With a six-month grace period to kick off your life after undergrad, that means most people who fail to keep up with loan payments run into problems within an 18-month span. As a result, your grace period is a critically important time. Now only does it give you time to either find a job or prepare for grad school, or both, it’s a time where you can take some financial responsibility.

Getting a job right out of the chute isn’t easy for anyone, so if you can, bide your time with a part-time job, which still gives you plenty of time to apply and interview for something more full-time.

Your grace period is also the best time to consolidate your undergraduate loans. The primary reason for loan consolidation is to make things easier for you now, by stretching out your payments, lowering your interest rate and allowing you to have one or two low payments instead of seven or eight. While you can’t consolidate your federal and private loans together, you can consolidate them separately.

03.25.10 | How to Get Rid of a Late Student Loan Payment

Posted in Consolidation, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Making your student loan payments on time is incredibly important. A late payment can lead to additional fees, and can wreak havoc on your credit score. Yes, it’s true. Part of your credit report is based on your ability to make payments on time, and even one late payment can add a black mark to your record which could later prevent you from financing a car or getting a mortgage.

That is why, if you notice an incorrect late payment on your student loan bill, you shouldn’t just let it go. Immediately contact your provider to dispute the charge.

The first thing you will need is documentation. Print out bank statements or credit records and highlight the dates. The best evidence you can provide is a printed copy of an online pay receipt. If you pay your bill online, you will often get an email or other such prompt from the lender’s website telling you when you made a payment. Print this page out and keep it for your records.

Contact your student loan provider or loan consolidation service to report the error. Don’t be shy if they tell you there is nothing they can do. Ask to speak with a supervisor. If it is an error on their part they are required by law to fix it. If they continue to give you the run-around, contact a credit bureau to report the charge. Send each credit bureau copies of your photo ID and bank records. Follow up to make sure the charge is removed.

Of course the best way to avoid a late charge is to be careful and diligent about paying your student loan bill on time.

1. If your lender’s website has automatic bill pay, use it. I can not recommend this any more highly. Now you have the peace of mind to have the bill paid on time without having to lift a finger.

2. If you prefer to pay your bills the old-fashioned way (i.e. mailing out a check), be sure to leave yourself at least a week before the payment is due. This gives you enough leeway to ensure your lender gets the payment on time and to fix any discrepancy which might come up in the transaction.

3. Set an alert for when you will pay your bills. If you are anything like me, your student loan bill is one of about a half-dozen bills you have every month. There’s always the possibility of one getting lost in the shuffle. For that, I recommend setting up an alert on your phone or email to remind you when you need to pay online or mail out a check. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend Google Calendar, which will send you an email and/or text message alert on the day you want to make a payment.

Any other tips to avoid a late payment? Leave them in the comments below!

ScholarshipPoints code: LATEPAY

Image credit: Katie Mangus on Flickr.

03.25.10 | Is Consolidation an Inflation Buster?

Posted in Consolidation, Loan Consolidation by Student Loan Network Staff

What is the first rule of finance? Money is worth more to you now than it ever will be to you in the future. This is true in a strictly logical sense and in an emotional sense; don’t you feel calmer, less stressed out if you know you have more money in the bank… just in case? Or perhaps you have a mortgage and you’re paying for both a new house/apartment AND a student loan… wouldn’t having some extra money available to you each month be useful?

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