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3 On Your Side: Consolidating Student Loan Debt

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- According to a recent report, 70 percent of the class of 2013 has an average of more than $35,000 in college-related debt, the bulk of which is related to student loans. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has a look at one way grads can lower the interest they're paying on that debt.

It's that time of year: After all the pomp and circumstance, U.S. college students are graduating with a mountain of debt.

Interest rates are near record lows, so after graduation, borrowers may consider refinancing.

Rates on private student loans can be high because they're based on the borrower's credit history, which for most college students is limited. But that can change once they graduate, get a job and build their credit profile. Switching from a federal to private loan could also mean lower rates, if the borrower has good credit.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is warning borrowers to consider the risks before refinancing:

- Pay attention to the annual percentage rate or APR. Your monthly payment may be lower, but that may only be because it's a longer-term loan.

- Most federal loans have fixed rates. If you switch to a private loan with a variable rate, be aware your interest rate could rise over time.

- Federal loans also have benefits that private lenders don't offer, like loan forgiveness for certain professions.

The CFPB also says borrowers are currently having trouble finding opportunities to refinance. It is recommending policy makers take steps to make student loan modification more widely available.

For more information about student loan consolidation, visit these links:

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