A college or graduate school education is something that you can proudly carry with you for the rest of your life. Having graduated means you can be confident in the knowledge that you have a solid grounding in a depth of learning that can launch a career and inspire a thoughtful life.For many graduates, along with the pride of accomplishment that accompanies college graduation comes the burden of student loan debt. It is not uncommon for grads to easily carry over one hundred thousand dollars of debt burden on their shoulders for years and years after graduation.Depending upon how things go with their job search after graduation, college graduates may make enough money to make their monthly loan payments at first. However, as time passes and new demands like buying a house and raising a family start to get piled onto the graduate, managing student loan payments can become increasingly challenging.The challenge of having to make monthly student loan payments can be particularly hard for those with multiple student loans. Having more than one student loan requires having to make different payments to different lenders, usually with payments due on different days of the month. This is inconvenient, to say the least.Consolidate If You Can Get A Good RateAn excellent solution for grads in this situation is to consolidate one’s student loans. Through private loan consolidation, you will have just one loan – which means a single interest rate and single payment each month. It can also allow you to spread your payments out over up to 30 years, which could very well lower your monthly loan payments.Of course, it is only a good idea to consolidate if you can get a better rate than that of the average rate of your current loans.How Private Student Loan Consolidation Interest Rates Are CalculatedIf you currently have private student loans, you are going to want to consolidate through a private consolidation lender. In this case, your new rate will be calculated based upon a combination of the current prime rate (or other standard rate index) and an additional margin determined by your credit (FICO) score.5 Tips For Getting The Best RateIf you choose to consolidate your loans, you are going to want to do everything you can to qualify for the best rate. Here are 5 tips for doing just that:1. Run your credit report with all three Big Three credit bureaus: Since your new rate will be determined in part by your credit score, start the consolidation process by running your credit report with TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.2. Calculate your current weighted average interest rate: Calculate the weighted average of the interest rate of your existing loans. The result of your calculation represents the number you want to try to beat with your new interest rate.3. Research loan consolidation lenders: Do some online research and create a list of at least 10 lenders that specialize in student loan consolidation. While you may be tempted to just find one or two, remember that your chances for getting the best-possible deal go up significantly if you are applying with multiple lenders.4. Maintain a research log: As you compare lenders, be sure to keep meticulous notes in Excel or with pen & paper, including lender name, contact name, contact phone, published rates, and credibility of website.5. Apply to at least 5 lenders: Now, you can start applying for a loan. Remember, apply to at least 5 of the best lenders you researched.In the end, getting the right student loan consolidation interest rate is about knowing what rate you are trying to beat, how to do your research, and how to select the right offer. Doing so could lower your monthly payments by $100 or more.
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