Two ways that students can reconsolidate their loans

Q: I recently read that you can reconsolidate student loans. Is that true? I was under the impression that you could not do this.
S.P., via e-mail

A: You can reconsolidate under two circum- stances. The first is if you go back to school and take out a new loan. Once you've borrowed anew, you can then consolidate the fresh loan with the original consolidated loan.

The other situation is if you have a loan that has been left out of a consolidation package. Here again, you can blend that left-out loan with the consolidated loans to make a new loan.

You might not reap much of a windfall from doing this, says Erin Korsvall, a spokeswoman for Sallie Mae, the student-loan company. She says the interest rate is determined by the weighted average of the underlying loans (in this case one consolidation loan and the other single loan), then adjusted upward to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. But, hey, it never hurts to ask. Quiz your original lender first.

Q: We want to refinance our home loan to pay off our debts, but have not found a lender that will refinance at 100 percent. We filed for bankruptcy four years ago and have tried to keep our credit good. We are now disputing items on our credit report. I have one late payment on a credit card, which was not my fault. My credit score is 568. A few months ago, it was 622. Can anyone help us?
P.A., via e-mail

A: You may continue to find it difficult to secure 100 percent refinancing of your home, says Chris Viale, general manager at Cambridge Consumer Credit. So he suggests that you focus on repairing your credit score.

The first step, Mr. Viale says, would be to call your creditors to negotiate lower interest rates. If you've been a loyal customer, creditors will sometimes trim rates by 1 to 3 percent.

If that doesn't work, seek aid from a credit-counseling agency, he says. Look for one that offers genuine educational assistance and budget planning to help you return to financial stability.

In the meantime, Viale suggests that you look a little more closely at your credit report. The fact that your credit score fell 54 points in a span of a few months is a matter of concern. There may be additional mistakes that would warrant a second look.

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