Consolidating Student Loans
Here's the thing. I have roughly $40k in student loans right now split between a bunch of different lenders. Breaks down something like this: $23k Direct Loans $16k AES Alternative (plus?) Loans $2k Chase Student Loans $1k Nelnet $500 Perkins Loan I think that's it... I haven't started repayment on the Chase or Perkins loans yet, but I'm pretty sure the Perkins is something like $40-50/mo and I'm not sure what the payments on the Chase loans will be yet. Nelnet is $50/mo, and the Direct and AES loans are both about $100/mo each. The AES loan is in forbearance right now until July, and I applied for forbearance of my Direct Loans a couple months ago and they stopped billing me, but never sent me any information or confirmation of forbearance. I'm assuming it's in forbearance since they're not billing me, I just don't know for how long. I can call them if need be (but as long as I'm not being billed right now I'm not about to kick up a fuss :P). So, I'm looking at over $300/mo in payments right now, starting in the summer. Right now, I only make enough money to cover my current bills and expenses (and the $50 Nelnet payment, which is not in forbearance). I'm looking for a higher paying job (pretty tough with only call center/customer service experience), or job training, and/or a second job that will enable me to make these payments (in addition to other expenses I'll have in the near future, like a possible car payment). I'm trying to stay reasonably calm and optimistic about earning more money... but it's hard to do. I really don't know how it's going to work out.... So, sorry for all that background, my question is this: should I consolidate? It seems like the obvious answer is yes. That it would possibly reduce my monthly payments, and consolidate them into one easy payment (it would be very nice not to have to juggle sooo many monthly statements on top of all my other monthly bills). But what about interest? this article seems to be saying that consolidation is not a smart choice, that it will actually increase the amount of interest you have to pay long term? I admit, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and off the top of my head I don't know what my interest is on these loans as they are now.. and I'm sure if I did I still wouldn't be able to make sense of it :/ Any advice or insight? Thanks in advance for your help.