Written by Nicolas Allen CFP®
Many parents have children who have accrued significant debt while they are in college. College graduates often have multiple loans – each one requiring its own payments on its own due date each month. Aside from parents giving money, there are steps they can encourage their child to take to help manage those debts.
If you have an adult child or children who holds multiple student loans, there are different options for consolidation they can consider, based on the types of loans they hold. This can simplify the process for your child by having to make as little as one payment a month and may even make it possible for them to obtain more favorable repayment terms by doing so. Suggest they take these steps to determine if loan consolidation or refinancing is right for them:
#1 – Take inventory of all of their loans
As a first step, they should determine where their loans originate, the current balance and the interest rate they are paying. As you will see in step #2, the source of the loan is a major consideration.
#2 – Assess their options
If they hold loans from the federal government, they can choose to consolidate them into another federal loan or refinance through a private lender. An advantage if they are able to consolidate loans with the federal government is that they don’t have to meet any credit requirements. However, they will not be able to consolidate at a lower interest rate than they currently pay.
Private lenders, on the other hand, will assess factors like their current income and credit score before refinancing loans. In many cases, credit scores will have to be in the mid-to-high-600s to qualify. With private lenders, they may have the opportunity to benefit from a lower interest rate. It’s also important to note that consolidation of loans that originate from private lenders can only occur by refinancing through a private lender.
#3 – Choose a lender
If your child opts to consolidate with a federal loan, they should refer to www.studentloans.gov. If they choose a private lender or are required to go in that direction, they have a variety of options as many firms offer student loans. An online search should help determine the best options. They should consider factors such as the potential repayment terms, variable rate options and any applicable fees.
#4 – Begin the application process
To consolidate with a federal loan, they should begin the application process at studentloans.gov. For federal loans, it’s important to remember they only have one opportunity to consolidate. This process typically takes less than 30 minutes, and there is no application fee. Your child should be ready with their Federal Student Aid I.D. and other personal and financial information. For a private student loan, they will work with the specific lender and follow their application procedures.
I understand that student loans can be complex, and as a parent, you may have other questions about how you can help your children establish strong financial discipline. For additional support, consult a financial advisor.
Nicolas Allen, CFP® is a Private Wealth Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Fresno, CA. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 12 years. To contact him, consider http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/nicolas.j.allen, (559) 490-7030 option 2, or 7433 N. First Street, Suite 102 Fresno, CA 93720.