Consolidate your student loan debt

FOX 5 I-Team

Consolidate your student loan debt

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ATLANTA -

The average student out of college carries $29,000 in debt, according to the latest stats. If it's your first year out of school, figuring out how to pay it off is your first test. Your goal is student loan debt consolidation

Here's a look at how to roll those scattered loans into one, manageable, low interest loan.

First you need to divide your loans into government-backed or private loans. If it's government-backed - look at the Fed's Direct Consolidation Loan program. It's one-stop shopping for consolidating government loans.

Now, when you consolidate your private loans, it's trickier. First, go back to where you got the loan in the first place. See if the lender will renegotiate. They just might as they don't want to lose your business.

If not, look around but be careful, there are lots of scam operations out there preying on young people desperate to cut down that bill. The Governor's Office of Consumer Protection says take your time making a decision.

"Of course, they're going to tell you they're going to save money, but you know a lot of these outfits charge significant up front fees. They're not supposed to, but they try to," said John Sours who runs GOCP and writes a consumer newsletter.

Here are some red flags: the imposters. They are private companies pretending to be connected to the government's pay-off plans. Check that the company claims are legitimate.

Read the fine print. Understand the fees associated with this new loan. And if you get high pressure sales tactics, walk away. A good company knows this is a very important decision and won't rush you.

And finally, don't make this decision in a bubble. Consult your friends, your parents. Make sure others look over the paperwork before you sign anything.





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