Want some help with paying off debt, but not sure what to do? You might have heard that loan consolidation can give you a lower interest rate, better loan terms, or smaller monthly payments.1
When you consolidate loans, you borrow enough money through a new loan to refinance the debt of your existing balances. The lender will pay off your existing loans. Essentially, you’re trading several loans for one new loan. You can then typically focus on the single new loan, which comes with its own interest rate and terms.
There are a few ways to consolidate your student loans: You can combine all your student loans — private and federal — into one new private consolidation loan, or you can keep your federal loans separate in a new consolidated federal loan, typically known as a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Should you consolidate?
There’s no right answer about student loan consolidation, and the best course of action will depend on your specific financial situation. Keep in mind when you consolidate, with some lenders you may pay a loan origination fee (though with a Wells Fargo consolidation loan, you won’t pay an application or origination fee).
Here are some potential reasons you may consider consolidating:
1. You want to lower your monthly interest rate
Student loan consolidation may provide you with a better interest rate than you currently pay on your private loans. The payment reduction may come from a lower interest rate, a longer loan term, or a combination of both. By extending the loan term you may pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
This is especially true if your credit is significantly better than when you initially took out those loans. Use a student loan calculator to see how to potentially pay less interest on your student loan.
2. You want to release a cosigner
When you applied for you student loans, your parents may have cosigned for the loan. A cosigner is someone other than the borrower who signs onto financial responsibility for the loan, typically to help the primary borrower acquire a lower interest rate. Applying for a new, consolidated loan is one way to remove cosigners from your loan — which may make Mom and Dad happy. (Just know certain requirements will likely need to be met before a cosigner is released).
3. You want to change your repayment term
If you want to pay off your debt faster, you may consolidate and shorten your loan’s repayment term and make bigger payments. Or, you may consolidate with a longer payment term, and make smaller payments each month. Just know extending a loan term will also mean you’re paying more in interest over the life of the loan.
4. You want to simplify your bills
Your post-college bank account may get a bit confusing, with new income and costs (like paychecks, rent, and insurance payments) entering and exiting your bank. If you want to simplify your bill payments, one way to do so is to consolidate your student loans. Instead of having multiple loans to track and make payments on, you’ll only need to focus on one.
Make sure to look at all scenarios — and run the numbers for each — to see what makes the most sense for you and your finances.