Most students will need to take out a series of loans to fund their way through college and in no time at all it is easy to find that you are making several loan repayments on different days every month and, although the amount of money you are paying on each loan may not be high, the total sum each month for all of your loans can be crippling. Indeed, it is quite possible that this sum will eventually be more than you can afford.
In many cases the problem does not actually arise until you have left college because a substantial proportion of your college funding comes from federal loans which do not need to be repaid while you are still in school. However, these loans are often insufficient to meet your financial needs and so many students turn to private alternative student loans on which repayment is normally required to start as soon as the loans are drawn down.
The procedures to be followed for consolidating government student loans and private alternative student loans are quite different and, in the case of alternative loans, it is very much a simple case of rolling all of your individual loans into one single loan. In other words you take out one single consolidation loan and use the money from this loan to pay off your other loans. This then leaves you with just one single payment to make each month.
Having said consolidation is simple there are a few things that you need to look out for. For example, if you are paying off a loan which has not been in issue for too long then you may find that there are redemption penalties on the loan and that it is actually more expensive to pay it off than to keep it running. You will also need to look carefully at the interest rate on your consolidation loan and compare it to the interest rates that you are paying on your individual loans. It is often possible to reduce your interest rate with a consolidation loan but this is not always the case and you could end up paying more than you are already paying in interest.
The commonest reason for consolidating alternative loans is to reduce your monthly payments and the usual way in which this is achieved is by extending the period of the loan. In other words, for example, you take a series of 10 year loans and combine them into a single 20 year loan. This allows you to reduce your monthly payments but it also means that you are now going to be saddled with this new loan for very much longer and end up paying back a lot more money in the long run.
Alternative loan consolidation can often be very useful, if not indeed necessary, and is also often quite easy to arrange. You should however go into it with your eyes open and make sure that you know just what you are committing yourself to.