How to Consolidate Student Loans and Achieve Financial Freedom

DATE: Mar 21, 2017 
AUTHOR: Amber Metro-Sanchez

Student loans are a very common financial obstacle that people face when they enter the dental field. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 68 percent of college seniors who graduated in 2015 had student loan debt averaging $30,100 per borrower. While dental hygiene is a growing field with real financial benefits, coming right out of school with debt can be a daunting financial dilemma. The choice to consolidate student loans can be a real and desirable option for you. Here's some valuable information so you can learn what consolidating student loans is all about.

Reasons to Consolidate

When you graduated from dental hygiene school, you couldn't wait to start making some real money. You may have hoped that most of your financial worries would disappear. But then reality hits and the bills for student loans start bombarding your mailbox. You may also have difficulty finding a job or getting a job that offers enough hours, causing further financial burdens. Student loan debt may be so substantial that it gets in the way of your life goals, like purchasing a home, getting married or starting a family. By choosing to consolidate student loans, college graduates are able to get a lower and realistic payment option that relieves some of the financial headaches.

Loan Consolidation Basics

A direct consolidation loan allows you to combine several federal loans into one loan, as defined by Federal Student Aid, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. Combining them simplifies your bills, resulting in one combined loan payment rather than several. Most federal loans, such as Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford and Perkins loans are eligible for consolidation. Combining your student loans allows you to switch from a variable interest rate to a fixed interest rate. Consolidating your loan can also give you up to 30 years to repay and lower your required monthly payment. Private loans are not eligible for consolidation, so you will have to factor those into your budget separately.

Applying for a Direct Consolidation Loan can be done through StudentLoans.gov. There is no application fee. You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan as soon as one of your eligible federal loans enters its grace or repayment period. Once you have entered into a Direct Consolidation Loan, it can no longer be changed, so make your decision carefully.

There are a variety of options available that can vary the payment depending upon your income. Available repayment terms can range from 10 to 30 years. By using the Repayment Estimator, you will be able to see which plans you might qualify for and get an idea of what your monthly payments would be.

Additional Ways to Decrease Student Debt

One of the best ways to pay off your student loan is to make payments as soon as you can since there is no penalty for prepayment. Although you are not required to make loan payments the day after graduation, it immediately helps reduce the total amount you owe. For a Perkins loan, you have a nine-month grace period, and Stafford Loans offer a six-month deferment, says U.S. News & World Report. If you take advantage of this opportunity to make your debt reduction a clear priority, keep in mind that interest accumulates for most loans even during your grace period, so the sooner you can pay it off, the better. If you are currently in school, even making an occasional interest-only payment will help.

When you were in dental hygiene school, your focus was studying hard so that you could earn your license. But shortly after graduation, the reality of paying off your student debts soon sets in. Oftentimes the payments are higher than you expected. The payment terms are often long too, so it can be disappointing to be stuck with this extra expense for years to come. If you tackle your student debt, instead of avoiding this obstacle, it can help you have a financial future you can look forward to.

Takeaways

  • Address your student loan debt so that you can be financially free to pursue your life goals.
  • Consolidate student loans to simplify your finances with a doable repayment plan that works for you.
  • Start paying off your debt as soon as possible to lessen the amount of interest you pay overall.

Why It's Valuable

Student loans do not have to be a lifelong curse. By being proactive and combining your student loans, you are one step closer to your financial freedom.