Question: My girlfriend and I both have lots of student loans. We Googled “student loan consolidation” and got some sketchy-looking websites. But we’re desperate, so we entered some info into some fields. They said she could get her loans consolidated but mine couldn’t be. Is this for real?
— Bill in Iowa
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
After getting some information from you, Bill, I figured out the discrepancy: Your girlfriend took out government loans, while you have a substantial number of private loans. Why does that matter? I made this video to explain the differences…
How to save money on those hefty student loans
For more on the differences between private and government student loans, consult our in-depth advice at Federal vs. Private Student Loans. The news isn’t all bad for you, Bill: You have both kinds of loans. You and your girlfriend can take advantage of several federally mandated programs. As you’ve experienced, however, some of the businesses aren’t exactly confidence-inducing.
Think about it this way: You can do your own taxes, or hire an accountant or tax-preparation firm to do it for you. That’s very similar to how student loan consolidation works. You can do it yourself — and Debt.com shows you how in Do-It-Yourself Student Loan Consolidation — but that can be overwhelming.
The federal government offers various programs depending on your circumstances. (You can get a plain-English rundown on them in our section called Options for Paying Off Your Student Loans.) The businesses that help you through the process charge you a fee, but the ethical ones never charge in advance, and they never charge more than a fraction of what you’re saving. How do you know you’re dealing with one of those ethical businesses? That’s what Debt.com is for.
We partner with companies that offer all sorts of debt-related services, and they must abide by our Code of Ethics. When you call us at 1-800-810-0989, one of our experts matches you with a company best suited to help you. It’s worth the call, because while the options can be complicated to navigate, the savings can be huge.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.