do you understand your student loans? (private consolidation pt 2)
My loans are a hot mess.
The last week I’ve been touting my responsibility, how I’ve never missed a loan payment, patting myself on the back for learning about private student loan consolidation and working to go that route – all. for. nothing.
Did I mention my loans are a hot mess?
Let me explain.
After my last post on looking into private student loan consolidation, I received a lot of feedback. Everyone said the same thing: do not do anything with a variable interest rate. I did my research, too. Major articles on private student loan consolidation: Forbes, Student Loan Consolidator & Faith & Finance.
I quickly discovered how precious few lenders take on private loan consolidation these days. I came up with three: cuStudent Loans, the one that conditionally approved me to start with; Wells Fargo & SunTrust – both of which offer fixed and variable plans.
I applied for both Wells Fargo & SunTrust. FYI – both are very open about wanting borrowers to have cosigners. Even if your credit is good, you may not get approved. And that is exactly what happened to me. SunTrust denied me outright (zinggg outch!), and Wells Fargo asked me to submit with a cosigner. The depressing truth of it is… I don’t have anyone to ask to cosign with me.
Y’all, when I say I come from little, I mean I come from nothing. I don’t have a single family member with credit-worthiness to cosign for a loan for me. After dwelling in bitter rage, hating all the privileged people with families who can help them and throwing myself a giant, massive, ice-cream fueled pity-party, I got over myself and kept on researching. I’m not the type to give up.
And I’m glad I didn’t.
(I promise, I’m getting back to that point about my loans being a hot mess!)
Today I logged into my Sallie Mae account and did some fishing. I mean some deep water, middle of the ocean, delved into that website and dug up the biggest, grossest stuff I could find. And it really seriously made me about as nauseated as catching a real fish actually would! Here’s the low down…
I’m currently paying $390/month for my private student loans. I repeat, that does not include my federal loans. I thought that was already insane enough! When applying and researching consolidation, I was basing all my math and decision-making on that number. WRONG! I didn’t understand my repayment terms. In reality, I owe another 17 payments of $390. After that, are you sitting down? I will owe 71 payments – SIX YEARS – of $564. Then I get a wee little break for five years and pay the low low price of $445 all before trailing off for another five years, paying $310.
And did I mention they’re all at 9.75%?!
Before you all judge me and call me crazy for ever taking out these loans, remember when I said no one in my family has any credit-worthiness? I’m a textbook example of a first-generation student with no know-how or access to information about higher education financial aid. I had no clue what I was doing. I fought and clawed my way through college, financially. I worked 2-3 jobs at a time every semester. I thought I was doing the right thing and, at the time, was proud that I could get approved for enough money to stay in school. How’s that for the pull yourself up by the boostraps American Dream?!
So with all this information, I’m reconsidering the only consolidation option currently available to me – cuStudent Loans, where I’d have that dreaded variable interest rate. The next step in this process is reviewing, analyzing and understanding the LIBOR index rate and how it would dictate my payments. If it hits historical highs in the 15 years that I’d be in repayment, would my payments be above the $565 Sallie Mae has me paying for six years? Stay tuned…
Unless, of course, anyone wants to cosign on a $50,000 loan for me?! …That’s what I thought 🙂
Protip: print out, read and know your repayment terms on your loans.