For individuals living with the burden of student loan debt, they’ll probably hear about many options to get them some type of financial relief (assuming they need it). The methods of today are a lot more expansive, because student loans aren’t just a regular kind of loan, they’re a mix of both federal and private types. This can make repayment tricky, because both have their own terms. While federal loans are rather forgiving, utilizing programs based on income-driven repayment or even forgiving the loan after a certain time period is not the same for private loans.

Consolidating and refinancing into private loans might sound appealing in a moment of crisis. Longer period repayment or lower interest rates are a couple of decent reasons, but ultimately it may be harmful in the long haul. This is because there aren’t the same levels of protection for private loans. Federal loans are the most understanding when it comes to particular financial situations, and want to work with indebted students. This is because they want to be paid back. Private loans though have stricter terms and aren’t exactly as yielding. Check to see if the private lender you are considering has any similar protections as those offered by the government.

Yet today, debt consolidation still remains to be excessively popular. According to modern analysis it’s one of the most sought after options for student debt repayment, student or otherwise. And why so? Many consider it invaluable since it localizes multiple loan bills into one simple, flat interest monthly expense, versus a lot of them. Lower interest rates equal more savings, and often borrowers aren’t eligible for many of these federal protections.

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Now, it’s gained immense traction in the student loan field, not just relative to bills in general. Currently, student loan debt now accounts for more than all the combined credit card debt in the United States, something that’s been referred to as a “debt explosion.” This explosion has occurred over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down, a reason why so many repayment programs have cropped up.

So what’s the modern take on consolidation for student loans? Switching to private loans limits a student’s options to pay back what’s owed, but can save thousands over the life of the loan. It is important to weigh your options when considering refinancing and consolidation. Decide if you are eligible for any of the federal programs that could save you money in the long run before refinancing into a private loan.

Still, despite these sometimes less-than-favorable terms, consolidation is a popular choice for many. Refinancing and consolidation could make a world of difference for your student loan repayment, just be sure to know what you may be giving up.