I have a massive amount of student loans (master's degree overseas, basically traded the extra money for about 2-3 years of my life due to differing lengths of education). Now that I have a job and can estimate my finances better, I'm a bit overwhelmed as to what I should be prioritizing as far as loans.
Two loans have higher interest rates than the others - the largest loan, and a private loan (so I can't consolidate it with the rest, which are government loans) with a variable interest rate whose minimum is higher than the rest. Four of the six individual loans are less than $6k, while the largest is over $20k. Some ideas I had:
1) Consolidate everything but the smallest, pay that off first
2) Consolidate everything but the largest, pay more than minimum on that, because it has a pretty high interest rate
3) Consolidate everything but the private loan, focus on paying that off first, since it's variable interest at a fairly high rate (I had a bit of an emergency and had very little choice)
4) Consolidate everything over a certain interest rate (the rates range from 5.6% to 7.9% to variable 7% min, with a mode of 6.8%)
I've estimated my payments (still in deferment) and doubt I can afford to make all six payments every month, it's basically 25% of my take-home pay and I have car payments and rent on top of that. Should I consolidate using a federal consolidation loan? A private one?
Basically, I need some guidelines to follow so I can make decisions without shooting myself in the foot.
(Note: These are US-based student loans)