A college education is viewed as a worthwhile investment, but it is certainly not cheap. The overall cost of 4 years at university can take 6 or 7 years to earn back as a professional, and with most students needing several loans to finance tuition and living expenses, the debt can take decades to repay. Little wonder student loan consolidation programs are so popular.
Surveys have shown that on average, students attending US colleges graduate with between $30,000 and $50,000 debt on their shoulders. So, in reality, their careers begin, not with progress in mind, but simply with clearing college debts. This can prove crippling in the early years of working life, when salaries are at their lowest.
But through a consolidation program, the balances on numerous student loans can be paid off in one go, and replaced by a single loan that boasts better terms and greater affordability. As always, there are some factors to consider before signing up to one.
How Consolidation Programs Work
Student loan consolidation programs are highly effective in replacing difficult debt terms with much better ones. On the face of it, it may seem that replacing multiple loans with one loan is hardly progressive, but with the right terms, it can save hundreds of dollars in payments every year.
Most students take on at least 5 loans while attending college, but as well as the individual balances owed, this also means 5 individual interest rates and repayment schedules. This arrangement means that costs are much higher than they need to be, and only complicates the task of clearing college debts.
But taking on one loan makes everything simple. One repayment date means less chance of repayments being missed, while one interest rate means interest is lower overall. And when student loans are replaced by a long-term consolidation loan, the monthly repayment sum is much lower.
How the Program Benefits Students
Other than lower interest, lower monthly repayments, and less pressure, a student loan consolidation program has a number of long and short-term benefits. The key is the fact that the college debt is marked down as having been repaid in full, even if it has been replaced by a consolidation loan.
Once the task of clearing college debts is accomplished, the credit score of the student is increased in their credit record. And with higher credit scores comes an entitlement to lower interest rates when applying for a loan.
Even while repaying the consolidation loan, there is more cash freed up to meet other bills and debts with. For example, a $50,000 debt may need combined monthly student loan repayments of $850 over 60 months; but over 120 months, payment on a single loan of the same sum fall to $420.
Sealing an Affordable Option
The whole idea of taking on a student loan consolidation program is that a crippling financial situation can be alleviated quickly. But real benefit can only be enjoyed when the right terms are secured. This basically translates to getting the most affordable option.
To accomplish this, there are some simple factors to look out for. The most obvious is the term of the consolidation loan, with the maximum term available for graduates being 30 years. This makes any debt affordable, though bear in mind that clearing college debts in this way means much more is paid in interest too.
But securing a competitive interest rate is another consideration. Searching online can reap good options, with comparison sites making that job all the easier. Just remember that the student loans being cleared are the priority, and reducing its monthly impact is the key to affordability.