Maggie Germano, a certified financial education instructor and financial coach in Washington, D.C., said debt consolidation comes up “pretty frequently” with her clients.For example, the government’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment (IBR) programs allow borrowers to make reduced monthly payments based on financial hardship.
This is often the reason that people cite when they say you shouldn’t combine federal and private loans.
But before you dismiss the idea of refinancing, you should first take a look to see if any of these benefits apply to you.
“Depending on the type of consolidation, there are debt consolidation firms that will negotiate any sort of debt that’s out there,” said Rod Griffin, director of consumer education for the credit bureau Experian.
“There may be restrictions by the lender, but generally, most debts can be consolidated or settled.” No matter what type of debt consolidation loan option you’re looking into, it is important to understand how to consolidate debt.
Determining which method will benefit you the most will involve some homework and some calculations … can take many forms, including a personal loan, a balance-transfer credit card, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and a debt management plan, among others.
(We’ll get into the details of those options later on.) No matter what strategy suits you best, the idea is the same: Lump together all or most of your debts into a single payment as a way to save money, simplify your finances … For example, if you have multiple high-interest credit card debts and outstanding medical bills, you may want to take out a personal loan to repay those debts.I’ll sometimes float the idea of debt consolidation so they only have one bill to pay or so they can have a lower interest rate.” There are numerous debt consolidation methods to consider, some of which work better in different situations.A word to the wise, though: Debt consolidation isn’t for everyone struggling with debt.For example, under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), your Direct Loan balance may be eligible for forgiveness after 120 payments if you’ve worked in the public sector that entire time.Similarly, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is available for teachers who work in schools that serve low-income families full-time for five consecutive years.Debt consolidation involves combining multiple unsecured debts into one bill, which can be helpful if you’re overwhelmed by an assortment of monthly payments.