The ideal of going to school and getting a degree sometimes carries us away. We take what we can get in the form of grants and scholarships, and then we take out loans to fill in the financial gaps that are left. This is all so that we can succeed in reaching the goal of finishing school, meeting the expectation of graduating, and finding success.
The hard part is the realization that graduation is not the success you thought it would be. The degree you have worked so hard for doesn’t necessarily get you the job you thought you would get. Often, people work in fields completely outside of the area they majored in. The real world is not the ideal world. School simply taught you how to learn. You aren’t entering a field with knowledge no one else has. In fact often times what you learn in school is out-dated by the time you graduate. So what was the point? And now you have all of this debt. It can be disheartening.
The good news is that no education ever goes to waste. All learning is worthwhile. You will be surprised to learn how seemingly unrelated things come into play throughout your life and possibly various careers. Consolidating your student loans while you figure out your life path is sometimes the best thing you can do. There are times when you need some breathing room to figure things out. Paying off the whole thing might not be right for you at this point in your life. Take advantage of the repayment options available to you and go for a low payment if you need to. Just make sure you are at least paying the interest on the loan, so that it doesn’t grow, and do whatever you need to in order to avoid default, because that hurts your credit and will haunt you for years.
NSLDS.ed.gov: The National Student Loan Data System is a student aid database where you can access information about your loans and grants. You will need this information before you apply to consolidate your loans.
LoanConsolidation.ed.gov: Once you have organized all of your loan debt info and have a good idea of where you are at, visit this site and figure out if loan consolidation is the best thing for you to do. It isn’t the most professional looking site, and the colours are a bit hard on the eyes, but looks can be deceiving. It is filled with lots of good information. There is a page which lists the three basic steps and everything involved in each step:
- Getting organized is the first step. You need to have your information and documents ready and available before you begin the process. There is a list of things you will need, including a PIN from the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Web Site; you can apply for this if you do not already have one. Since the application is most often done online, there are some web tips listed to help you complete the application without problems. You can print and mail the application, if you prefer.
The online calculator is a tool to help you decide whether to go forward with your application or not. Looking at the numbers sometimes helps in the decision making process and helps you figure out what monthly payment you can actually afford. There is also a list with descriptions of each type of repayment option. Deciding which one you think is right for you will speed the process of going through the application.
The second step is to fill out and send in the actual application. You can do this online, which is the most efficient way, or you can print and mail the application.
- Then, your application gets reviewed and processed. The whole process takes from 60-90 days, but you can view the status online while you wait.
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