Five  Steps to Take Before Refinancing or Consolidating Your Student Loans
Have you been thinking about refinancing or consolidating your loans?  It's a big financial decision! Here are some steps to take and things to consider before you apply. Additional information can also be found at .
1. Gather your loan information.
The first step is to gather all of your current loan information.   Use this worksheet  
to record all of the details associated with your loan(s) in one place, including loan amount(s), interest rate(s), and any current or future repayment benefits. This information will be needed as you evaluate whether refinancing or consolidation is right for you. If you do decide to refinance or consolidate, you will also need this information to complete your application.
2.  Consider current or future repayment benefits.
Not all loans have the same repayment options or benefits. Federal loan benefits often include repayment options based on income and the ability to postpone payments based on certain circumstances, such as financial hardship or a return to school. In some cases, federal loan forgiveness may be possible. Some private loans have rebates for making a certain number of on-time monthly payments, or an interest rate reduction for automatic payments. If you refinance or consolidate your loans, some or all of these benefits may no longer be available.
3. Review your credit history.
The interest rate on your refinanced loan will be determined by your credit history and ability to repay. Knowing the details of your credit history and your credit score will help determine future interest rates. A positive credit rating could help you receive a lower interest rate, while a negative credit rating could mean a higher interest rate. Start by requesting and reviewing your  free annual credit report If there are any errors, follow up with your creditors and get them corrected. Credit scores are available for an additional fee.
4.  Understand your financial goals.
Ask yourself what your goal is for refinancing or consolidating. Are you looking for a lower monthly payment? If so, keep in mind that paying less each month may make repayment easier in the short term but can often extend the life of the loan and increase the total amount of interest paid.  Taking longer to repay isn't necessarily a bad thing if you need a lower monthly payment to make your current financial situation manageable.  Is your goal to reduce your interest rate? Often a lower interest rate will reduce the total interest paid, which can save you money in the long run. Knowing your goals will help you determine what is best for your situation .
5. Improve your financial wellness.
Before making your final decision about refinance or consolidation (or any money-related decision), be sure you have a good financial plan. The foundation of any financial blueprint is a solid spending plan, also known as a budget. The good news is, you don't have to go it alone! FAME offers a variety of   money management resources  to help you manage your money and keep your financial life on track.
Want More Information?

Join us on Wednesday, November 9th at 10:00 a.m. for this month's free Wednesday Webinar: Student Loan Consolidation/Refinance 101. Learn the basics of student loan refinance, including the differences between federal consolidation and private loan refinance. The webinar will also include information on responsible borrowing, financial education requirements and the newly launched website.
Connect with us!

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) does not discriminate in the administration of any of its programs or in its employment practices on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, gender, religion, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, marital status or sexual orientation. FAME is an equal opportunity employer, provider and lender.

FAME provides links to other websites as a convenience and does not endorse or guarantee the content, accuracy or usability of such sites.