Understanding The Ins And Outs Of Loan Repayment

Question: I have just graduated from college and started a rather low-paying job that I love. It is difficult to make payments on all the college loans that I have. Should I try to consolidate them? Will this reduce monthly payments? — Poor but Happy

Answer: A direct consolidation loan allows you to combine multiple federal education loans into one loan. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Loan consolidation can give you access to additional loan repayment and forgiveness programs. However, whether you should consolidate your loans depends on your individual circumstances.

You need to know that you do not have to pay fees to a private company to consolidate your federal student loans. There is no fee if you consolidate through the Department of Education. Nothing is more important than your understanding the ins and outs of loan repayment. Begin by going to studentaid.ed.gov and clicking on “How to Repay Your Loans.” You should study all the topics in this category. Another reliable source is finaid.org.

The pros of loan consolidation include having a single loan with just one monthly bill, lowering your monthly payment and having a longer period of time (up to 30 years) to repay your loans.

There are cons to loan consolidation that you also must understand. Because consolidation usually increases the period of time to repay loans, you might make more payments and pay more money in interest. In addition, it is possible to lose certain borrower benefits that you have. Consider loan consolidation carefully if you have an income-driven repayment plan forgiveness or public service loan forgiveness.

If you are concerned about the impact of loan consolidation, you might want to consider deferment or forbearance as options for short-term payment relief, or consider switching to an income-driven repayment plan.

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Question: A rather large middle-schooler is constantly bullying my son in the locker room at school. Would it be a wise move for me to confront this bully? — Against Bullying

Answer: It is rarely a good idea for parents to confront a bully. Doing so can lead to making the situation worse. In fact, you could be breaking the law if you take any physical action or make any documented threats against the child. And your child might take your confronting the bully as a sign that you don’t believe that he can handle the situation.

The best approach is for you or your son to first bring the bullying to the attention of the school that the children attend. Unfortunately, most schools have gained a lot of experience in handling bullying. It has been estimated by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that 50 percent of children have been bullied with 10 percent bullied on a regular basis.

If the school does not handle the situation satisfactorily, you can take the matter to an attorney. The attorney can send a letter and outline to the parents of the bully what has been happening and spell out what could happen if the bullying persists.

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