Consolidating federal and private school loans

Fin maintains a list of student loan institutions, including large banks; private companies like Sallie Mae; and state education system lenders like the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority and the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority.

You should do enough research to be able to negotiate the most favorable terms.

You may also have access to a new repayment schedule (like an income-contingent plan) that’s a little easier on your wallet.

If you don’t care about the extra cash and just want a consolidation for the simplicity of a single monthly payment, you can use any money you save to pay down the principal.

However, refinancing allows the borrower to seek better interest rates and repayment terms.Current law dictates that you can only consolidate once, so if you consolidate at a 6 percent interest rate and rates later drop to 3 percent, you’re out of luck.There are two exceptions: if you’ve since gone back to school and acquired new student loans, or if an outstanding loan was excluded from your original consolidation.For any college grads overwhelmed by multiple student loans, this can be extremely helpful.The difference between student loan consolidation and refinancing is a subtle distinction but no less important.

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