July 1, 2008 and Student Loans

Question: I'd like to first start off by saying I love show and could listen to it for 3 hours a day if it were on and I had the time. Honestly, how can someone like Chris know so much about such a wide range of financial topics? I've heard a lot recently about the July 1st deadline to consolidate students loans to a very, very low rate and was wondering: 1) What personal information do I need to gather? and 2) What website should I go to.

I usually am at work when the show is on, so I only get to listen to bits and pieces, but an e-mail or any response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Wade. Duluth,MN

Answer: I'm glad you enjoy the show. On the student loan front, there's no need to rush. However, anyone with variable rate student loans should mark July 1 on their calendar. If you consolidate after that date you can lock in interest rates 3 percentage points less than the current 7.22%. That's a huge savings over the life of a loan. So, if you're thinking of consolidating, wait. The student loan consolidation market has shrunk with the credit crunch. Hopefully, it will open up again soon.

What's more, on July 1 the clock starts ticking on the new federal program that forgives remaining federal student loan debt after 10 years if you make all your payments on time and work for the government, non-profit, or other qualifying job.

A nice summary of what will happen on July I, 2008 is on the website Project on Student Debt at www.projectonstudentdebt.org. The specific page is http://projectonstudentdebt.org/july1-2008.vp.html.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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