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You won’t have to worry about making individual payments, and you may also be able to save money, as some lenders provide a lower interest rate if you sign up for automatic payments.The interest rates you have on your loans probably vary.And be aware that if you refinance and extend your loan term, you could end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.If you’re facing financial hardship and finding it difficult to make your private student loan payments, you might be able to apply for forbearance.Then be sure to factor the payments into your monthly budget.

So what’s the difference between refinancing and consolidation?

Federal and private student loans can be refinanced and consolidated, either through a Direct Consolidation Loan offered by the U. Department of Education or through private lenders.

It’s important to fully understand the benefits specific to some federal student loans — benefits that may be lost when refinancing and consolidating.

If you have extra funds each month, apply them to the loans with higher interest rates first to reduce the total interest you’ll have to pay.

Also, since student loans don’t have prepayment penalties, you won’t be penalized if you choose to put extra money toward repaying your loans.

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