Every year, student loan interest rates are reconfigured on July 1st. In recent years, this date has come and gone with no cause for alarm, but this year is different. As part of a plan to heal the nation’s $40 billion budget deficit, the Senate passed a plan to cut $12.7 billion from the federal student loan program between 2006 and 2011. The impact on students is a drastic interest rate hike on all federal student loans including the Stafford loan, the PLUS loan, the Consolidation loan, and the Perkins loan.
1. Student loan interest rate hike
After July 1st, the interest rate on new Federal Stafford loans will jump from a variable 4.7 percent to a fixed 6.8 percent while PLUS loans will increase from a variable 6.1 percent to a fixed 8.5 percent. The way to avoid these skyrocketing interest rates is to lock into today’s low fixed rate by consolidating your loans.
2. Last chance for “in school” consolidations
Under the new legislation, students that are still in school won’t be able to consolidate their loans after July 1st, 2006. It’s more important than ever for current students and those who are in their post-graduation grace period to seize this current window of opportunity to refinance and lock in the current rate before July 1st.
3. The 1st of July means the end of spousal consolidations
Another student loan consolidating restriction will be imposed on the spousal consolidation loan. For years, married couples have enjoyed the simplicity and financial benefits of consolidating their student loan payments. Married couples still have the chance to take advantage of this opportunity by applying for a spousal consolidation loan before July 1st.
4. You’re stuck with your lender
Starting on July 1st, borrowers will no longer have the opportunity to consolidate existing Consolidation loans with a different lender. Unless the current lender does not offer a consolidation loan with income sensitive repayment terms, borrowers won’t have any options when it comes to shopping around more attractive offers and companies.
Steps to take on or before July 1st
If you haven’t already consolidated your student loans, contact a student loan consulting and refinancing lender as soon as possible. Go online and compare various online loan companies, read up on loan terminology, use online calculators to understand your potential savings, and get in touch with a student loan consolidation expert with a list of questions.
Student loan consolidation already offers a wealth of benefits, not to mention the newest benefit as a safe haven from the July 1st interest rate hikes. Because payments are combined and spread out over a longer period of time, monthly payments are reduced, freeing up cash flow for young adults who are just beginning their careers. Additionally, having only one open loan is more beneficial in terms of credit rating as opposed to numerous open loans that can lower an overall FICO score.
Refinancing before July 1st still gives students one last chance to lock in low interest rates and take advantage of other soon-to-be cut money saving opportunities and programs.