Dear Student Loan Hero: Why Take On More Debt If I’m Already Drowning in It?

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dear student loan hero: why take on more debt if i'm already drowning in it
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Taking on more debt when you’re already drowning in it probably feels wrong. In fact, you’d be excused for slamming the door on that idea.

But if you open that door just a bit, you might find that a possible solution is a debt consolidation loan, which is a specific kind of personal loan offered by lenders.

To determine whether borrowing again despite having debt makes sense, answer these two questions posed by certified financial planner (CFP) Brad Ruttenberg.

1. Will your new interest rate be lower?

Right now, you could be struggling to make payments to creditors that are charging high interest rates. Credit card companies, for example, charge variable rates that could rise well above 20.00%.

However, many top personal loan companies, such as Earnest and SoFi, start their rates under 10.00%.

Overall, having a lower, fixed rate on your debt could help you save significantly. As Ruttenberg said, “It’s a simple question of math.”

Say you have $30,000 in credit card debt with a 20.00% rate that you’re looking at repaying in 5.5 years.

If you pay off that debt with the funds from a $30,000 personal loan, borrowed at a 10.00% rate and repaid over a five-year term, you’d save more than $11,000 of interest during repayment, according to our debt consolidation calculator.

Depending on your loan agreement, you also could lower your monthly payment and pay down the debt faster.

Debt in the form of a personal loan is more convenient, too. It would entail one monthly payment to one lender and put an expiration date on your debt. The terms for personal loan repayment typically span two to five years.

Of course, a personal loan might not be right for you if you don’t have the credit score to receive a relatively low interest rate from a lender. In that case, you might be better off improving your credit, making debt payments as you can, and then reevaluating getting a personal loan or balance-transfer card down the road.

2. What will you do with the extra room in your budget?

If you have the credentials to apply for a personal loan, the next question is whether you trust yourself to use these new funds properly.

“It’s a question of willpower,” Ruttenberg said. “If you have confidence the funds will be used to either pay down the debt faster or to build your emergency fund, for example, then it can make sense.”

If, on the other hand, you might be tempted to misuse a personal loan, Ruttenberg said it would be wise to cut your expenses before borrowing. You also should adopt proper money habits and tighten your budget. Otherwise, taking on more debt in the form of a personal loan could worsen your situation.

Say you borrow that $30,000 personal loan, for example, and erase your credit card debt. All that effort could be for naught if you keep abusing the plastic in your wallet instead of focusing on repaying the loan.

A good alternative is to use your credit card solely to cover routine expenses, such as your electric bill. Then pay off your balance each month to avoid interest and help repair your credit score.

If you don’t trust yourself to stay on the wagon, you could resort to cutting up your card into pieces. That would force you to live only on the money in your bank account or wallet.

Using the extra room in your budget to pay off the personal loan and spending less on things you can’t afford — that’s the recipe for a successful debt payoff.

Is a personal loan right for you?

It’s so counterintuitive that it might drive you mad, but taking out a personal loan to repay past debt could make sense — especially if you were able to correctly answer Ruttenberg’s two questions.

But the CFP would pose one more question before recommending you sign on with a lender. Ruttenberg would ask about your end game or why you’re trying to erase debt before he would recommend a personal loan.

Maybe your goal is to become debt-free so that you can focus on buying a house, start saving for retirement, or put your child through school. Whatever’s driving you, let it serve as your North Star. Just don’t expect a personal loan to pave the way there with magic fairy dust.

“Taking the loan is a tool,” Ruttenberg said. “You still need to do the work, and to do the work you need motivation.”

If you have a student loan question you’ve been waiting for an answer to, contact our customer support team. Your question might end up in this column.

Interested in a personal loan?

LendingTree allows you to compare rates from multiple lenders by filling out one easy form. Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

RATES (APR)loan amount
5.99% – 20.01%1 $5,000 to $100,000
6.14% – 35.99% $1,000 to $50,000
6.98% – 35.89%* $1,000 to $50,000
99.00% – 199.00%2 $500 to $4,000
5.99% – 24.99%3 $5,000 to $35,000
5.99% – 29.99%4 $7,500 to $40,000
compare rates on Lendingtree now
NMLS #1136: Terms & Conditions Apply
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 20.01% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.49% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of November 15, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.49% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.81% plus 4.93% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5.  

    Rates and terms vary by state.

3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.98%-35.89%. All personal loans have a 1.5% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

Published in Credit & Debt, Personal Finance

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