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Consolidating Student Loans Advice

Rita Said:

Where can I get advice about consolidating my student loans?

We Answered:

I have consolidated through ACS and AES: and

I've had excellent results with both places and locked in a 4.5% interest rate. They did all the work for me, consolidated all the loans and got me the best interest rate. They also allow generous repayment periods, flexibility in the amount I pay, plus they offer deferment if I ever need it. I highly recommend both companies.

Melvin Said:

Does anyone have any advice on consolidating PRIVATE student loans? I'm having bad luck and need some advice!

We Answered:

I was able to consolidate both of my student loans through Direct Loans. One of mine was private, and one was through SallieMae. You could give them a try. I wish you luck. I know exactly what you are going through. I don't know your entire situation, but I currently only make $9/hour, and they were expecting me to pay $200 a month to the private loan, and I don't even remember how much to SallieMae. I didn't finish school for reasons beyond my control at that time. I AM trying to go back, but they wouldn't release my transcripts until I had them paid off. So that is why I tried to consolidation. Because I would then no longer owe the school. It truly does feel like an uphill battle, but you just have to hang in there. Good luck!

Vanessa Said:

has anyone consolidated student loans? any advice on who to go with? any bad experiences?

We Answered:

I generally recommend that my students consolidate with Sallie Mae. They hold the most consolidation loans out there (they're several billion dollars ahead of the #2 lender Citibank) and have been in business for a long time. Technologically, they're unparalleled (a good lender website really comes in handy if you tend to forget your payment due-date -- if it's due in an hour and you can't pay online, you're in a bit of trouble). (Their call center is huge, too.) I've dealt with a lot of students who have consolidated through Sallie Mae (including some students who completed the slightly-more-complicated "in-school consolidation" process) and each time it went smoothly.

Quite frankly, you don't always have a choice as to who you consolidate with. If all your loans are held by the same company, you must consolidate with that company (it's called the "single holder rule"). I, personally, was bound by this rule. Though I definitely don't tell my students this (given my pro-Sallie Mae stance), I myself had to consolidate with Citibank. To be honest, everything has gone well. They completed the consolidation process quickly and their website allows me to pay online, view my tax info online, and update my address online -- these are all good things to look for. Of course, it's possible that if I had had non-Citibank loans, the process would have taken longer... But that's why you should ask questions.

As far as bad experiences... I can think of one student (who was also bound by the single-holder rule) who had to consolidate with a smaller lender... His application was completed in full, online and it took *forever.* Not only was this inconvenient, but it also caused him to lose out on the lower, in-grace interest rate. Lesson learned: always ask your consolidation lender how long the process will take and plan accordingly.

People who have bad experiences generally have them because (a) they didn't read the instructions and (b) didn't seek professional advice when they had questions. Asking questions doesn't cost you money, but *not* asking them can (as with the case above). Even students who consolidate with top-notch lenders can still have problems. A few words of advice:

* Don't leave things blank on your application. Sometimes you can get away with writing "N/A" but other times you must put something. Don't assume that your lender will call to remind you to complete your application -- especially when time is of the essence (e.g. like now if you want to consolidate before the July 1st rate hike)

* Know the terms of your loan before you apply -- when the consolidation loan is disbursed, it'll be too late to change your mind (and that won't be the lender's fault)

* Before you apply, make sure you know how many loans you have, who your lenders are for those loans, and whether those loans are consolidatable; you can't expect your consolidation lender to always know this information, especially if you've had loans from multiple sources. I've had students come to me, 6 months after consolidating, and tell me that they forgot to include one of their loans into the consolidation. Sometimes, they'll realize this in time; other times, it'll be too late to add in the "forgotten" loan.

EDIT: Effective today, Bush signed the Emergeny Spending Bill, which repealed the Single Holder Rule. You're free, now, to borrow with whichever lender you wish to.

Karen Said:

Consolidating Student Loans?

We Answered:

Here's a great online resource that tells you about consolidating both your federal and private student loans:…

Eva Said:

Any advice on consolidating student loans?

We Answered:

There are several pros and quite a few cons for consolidation, especially right now when interest rates are pretty high. If you consolidate right now and your loan is at 7.14% then it is going to lock in the rate rounded up to the nearest 1/8% (So it would be 7.25). If you lock in that rate then you are stuck at that rate for life, even if the government lowers the interest rates on loans. Consolidation also stretches your repayment over a longer period of time, which can reduce your monthly payment amount, but will have you paying significantly more interest over the lfie of the loan. I typically have been advising people to wait until the beginning of June to find out what the government will do with the interest rates. If they are going to go up you may want to consider consolidating (although they can never raise Stafford loans above 8.25%). If they are going to go down then it is obviously in your best interest to wait to consolidate.

No matter which company you choose you will get the same base interest rate. The only thing that might be different is the "incentives" (aka Borrower Benefits) that each one offers. One may offer a 2% cash rebate after your first payment (sounds good, but not very much in the long run) while another may offer a 2% interest rate reduction after 48 on time payments. I would do a lot of research ont he incentives before sticking with one. Make sure you do not fill out more than one consolidation application. I see countless people who think they are just applying to see if they will be accpeted. But this is a binding contract.

Usually the most hassle free way is to go through whoever your current lender is. It is the quickest and easiest since paperwork doesn't have to be sent back and forth between 2 companies. But if you want to get away from your current lender or if they have no benefits then you can look elsewhere. Good luck and if you have any other questions feel free to email me.

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