Consolidating vs Refinancing Student Loans

When it comes to the transition from adolescence to adulthood, student loans can be a major cause of anxiety among young adults. The amount you will need to pay to attend college can be breathtaking–in a terrible way. You might spend many years paying these seemingly never-ending loans. The good news is that you can relax for a second, because you are not powerless in this situation. There are options to help you with your student loans, and they might make your life a lot easier in the long term.

Two popular choices you can make when your student loans start giving you a headache is to either consolidate or refinance them. These terms might be confusing, though. They are often used interchangeably, and it is not uncommon to find someone stating that both are virtually the same. There are some basic differences that you need to take into account when you come across the terms “consolidate” and “refinance” accompanied by the dreaded “student loans.”

Consolidating means you will combine multiple student loans into a single loan. To do this, you can ask for either the federal government or a private lender to aid you. By going to the federal government, your new student loan will also have a new rate. It will be a weighted average of your old loans. If you go to a private lender, you will have the choice to negotiate this new rate to be lower than your previous ones. A benefit of consolidating your student loans is that you will have lower monthly payments. The bad news is that this means you will also pay for your new loan for a much longer period, and you might have to pay more interest over the life of the loan.

Refinancing means you are applying to a new loan–under new terms–to pay for your older loans. You will be able to ask for a lower interest rate in this case. If your financial situation improved since your very first student loan, this is a good choice of action. By refinancing your student loans you will get some benefits, such as lowering your monthly payments, shortening your loan term and getting rid of your debt sooner, enjoying one simplified monthly bill, and choosing a variable rate interest loan. The bad news, in this case, is that the only way to refinance your student loans is with a private lender. Federal loans offer you certain protection that you will not find with private lenders, such as the Public Service Loan Service and income-driven repayment plans.

Which one of these options is better, though? That depends on your situation. After knowing exactly what consolidating and refinancing your student loans mean, you can make a more informed decision. This decision will vary greatly for each individual, and it is one only you can make. You can also opt to not change anything about your student loans either. You do not need to consolidate or refinance them if you don’t feel like it is the best course of action. That’s one perk of being an adult–you get to make choices on your own now.

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