Category: student loans
Student loan refinancing was not something I thought of upon receiving my master’s degree. I thought only, “Finally I’m finished with 50-page papers!” However, at age 29, I wanted to move permanently to Estes Park, Colorado. Enamored with Rocky Mountain National Park and with the high desert climate, I wanted to buy a cabin in the woods.
Unfortunately, I owed money, a lot of it. After graduate school my loans totaled $24,000, which doesn’t seem like a lot to folks who go to med school, but to someone such as me, who was used to living on the road, making less than $20,000 per year, $24,000 seemed astronomical. To make matters worse, my loan payments were hundreds and hundreds of dollars. There was no way I could pay a mortgage with my monthly payments.
So I did some research, talked with a bunch of people, and found out that I actually could do something about my situation. These words came up over and over again: student loan refinance. Why not try it at least? It couldn’t be that difficult.
It wasn’t that difficult, although it was definitely time consuming, and I had to do extensive research to really find out the good deals. I found a number of websites, including http://www.studentdoc.com/refinance-student-loans.html, which notified me that “the main goal of refinancing is usually to reduce your monthly student loan payments.” Exactly what I needed.
As the site states, it’s always better to start with good credit, so if you don’t have good credit, work on that first. I checked with the credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and discovered that although I didn’t have great credit (mostly because I never had a credit card), I didn’t have bad credit either. I was in good shape to get a fairly decent, low rate.
The next step I took was finding a lender that specialized in student loan refinancing. http://www.studentdoc.com recommends a number of sites. I ended up with the National Education Loan Network (a.k.a. Nelnet), which I used to reduce my monthly payment in three ways: I got a lower interest rate to lower my long-term student debt, I consolidated two school loans that I had, and I extended the duration of my loan. I also took advantage of a special offer to have the money taken directly out of my checking account, which lowered my interest rate even further.
Although it took a few months to get everything in order, the outcome worked to my advantage. I ended up with $123.50-per-month payments, which is entirely reasonable. These low payments enabled me to save quite a bit of money each month. I’ll be paying my loans off for longer–about 20 years; I’ve got 17 left–but I finally was able to save enough money up to buy a home and not worry too much about my mortgage payments.
Granted, I did get lucky. I consolidated my loans before July, 2006, at which time the consolidation rates jumped a few percentage points to match the current market rates (which rose significantly and steadily last year). However, it’s still very possible to lower your loan payments.