Pros and cons to consolidating student loans

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Consolidation is often the first step borrowers must take to enroll in some of the government’s more flexible repayment plans, including income-driven plans, many of which are restricted to borrowers with Direct Loans.Borrowers who graduated before 2010, when the government shifted to Direct Loans, for example, need to consolidate their loans to access the latest income-driven plan, Revised Pay As You Earn.

But that doesn’t mean consolidation is always a smart move.

The government offers plans that cut payments to 10% or 15% of “discretionary” income and offer forgiveness on the remaining balance after 20 or 25 years. If you have a large loan balance and a low income, income-driven repayment is probably your best option for the lowest monthly bill.

Not everyone is a good candidate for private student loan refinancing.

One more thing about interest rates: Most people obsess over interest rates.

While it is important, take a step back and look at the big picture.

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