Perhaps you were the student who waited until the last minute to cram for finals or routinely rolled out of bed five minutes before morning classes began. Procrastination is a common part of many students’ college experience. However, putting off consolidating your student loans and locking in the current interest rate won’t harm your grade point average, but it will affect your financial future. If you are thinking about student loan consolidation, you have until the deadline of June 30, to take advantage of the current low interest rates.
With interest rates expected to increase from 4.7% to 6.8% on July 1st, not consolidating your student loans could be a big mistake that will cost you thousands of dollars. For example, if you currently owe $30,000 in Federal Stafford Loans, monthly payments are $314. This amount can drop to $217 if you do a loan consolidation with the current interest rate. If you don’t meet the deadline, you will soon be paying $345 a month. Wouldn’t you prefer to be doing something else with $128 every month? As well, parents who are currently paying on PLUS loans should expect a hefty increase to what they are paying in interest if they don’t lock in the current rate before the deadline.
Besides the annual adjustment to the student loan interest rates, sweeping changes to the terms of financial aid are due to take affect on July 1st as part of the U.S. Congress’ Budget Reconciliation Act, and most of these changes will not benefit borrowers. Among the changes, students in school will not be able to consolidate their loans. As well, loan origination fees for students will be doubling, and the “in school” interest rate that currently gives students attending classes or in their grace period a discount of .6% will be discontinued.
Another reason not to delay in consolidating student loans is that there may not be an amnesty period for borrowers who fill out applications that aren’t processed by the deadline. Last year, a flood of applications were received the day before the rate hike went into affect, and the U.S. Department of Education generously offered amnesty for those who had submitted completed applications prior to the deadline. This year the Department of Education might not be so kind, and applicants who haven’t completed their consolidations before July 1st could be faced with having to pay the higher interest rate. Because student loan applications can take anywhere from one to 4 months to be processed, the time to submit an application is now.
The good news is that if you are considering a student loan debt consolidation, you still have enough time to complete the process and take advantage of the current interest rates and terms. It only takes a matter of minutes to fill out an application, and there is lots of help available. So, go ahead and get started, and pat yourself on the back for taking charge of your financial future.