Student Loan Consolidation: Should You, or Shouldn’t You?
By Carrie Steere-Salazar
Student debt is in the headlines, and offers to help consolidate and manage that debt are beginning to appear in advertisements on TV, radio and on the sides of the local MUNI buses. But that special service comes at a price.
“While students are enrolled and borrowing sensibly to meet their costs of attendance, there is little action that needs to take place,” said Carole Ann Simpson, UCSF’s new resource advisor in the Financial Aid Office. “Loan consolidation, in almost every case, should not be considered until after graduation. Students do not need to pay anyone in order to consolidate their student loans.”
Companies advertise student loan solutions and charge a fee to help students navigate the loan process and take advantage of income-based repayment plans and loan consolidation. Some of the agencies charge as much as $1000 for the service, and Simpson reported that she already has a list of just over 20 companies—and the list gets longer every day.
UCSF has resources to help you, and all of the options are available to you free of charge at www.studentloans.gov. This official (Department of Education) website has a great calculator, the Repayment Estimator, which Simpson recommends students use to think about their choices. “If students remember their PIN from the FAFSA, they can see all of the repayment choices for their Federal loans and the estimated monthly payments in about five seconds,” said Simpson. “There’s no need to pay someone to help you navigate repayment.”
The time to consider loan repayment options and create an individual repayment plan is just before graduation from UCSF. “There are many available options to assist students as they transition from student through residencies and post graduate program experiences to full professional earning status. We will be here to help borrowers navigate the choices and come up with a plan that makes sense for their career,” said Simpson.
Simpson also pointed out that students should feel confident in their future ability to manage student loan repayment. “Your colleagues who attended in just the past few years have done quite well—UCSF’s current student loan default rate is just 0.3%—one of the lowest rates around. Having serious difficulty during repayment is a very rare occurrence for our students,” she stated.
If you would like to ask questions or make an appointment to review your student loans and learn more, contact Carole Ann Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carrie Steere-Salazar is the director of Student Financial Aid.