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College graduates with good credit and steady incomes can often save thousands by refinancing their student loans at lower interest rates, but less than half of millennials have looked into refinancing, consolidation, or other options to improve their loan terms.

That’s according to a survey released today by Citizens Bank, one of the lenders offering refinancing of private and federal student loans to qualified borrowers through the Credible platform.

Citizens’ Millennial Graduates in Debt survey found that college graduates 35 years old and younger who have student loan debt spend 18 percent of their salaries on student loan payments, and 60 percent of those surveyed said they expect to be paying their loans off until they’re in their 40s.

The online survey of 501 millennials with outstanding student loan debt was conducted for Citizens by TNS from Feb. 10-22.

More than half of those surveyed said their student loan payments have limited their travel, and 40 percent said they have limited what they can spend on rent or mortgage payments.

A recent analysis of Credible user data demonstrated how student loan payments can affect borrowers’ debt-to-income ratios, limiting their ability to realize goals like homeownership, starting a business, or saving for retirement.

Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate has helped many borrowers lower their monthly payment or overall repayment costs. To get an idea of what you might save, you can use Credible’s student loan refinancing calculator.

Refinancing federal student loans with a private lender is not for everyone — you’ll give up benefits like access to income-driven repayment plans and the potential for loan forgiveness after 10, 20 or 25 years of payments. But those programs have pros and cons as well — extending your loan term without reducing your interest rate means you’ll pay more over the life of your loan. The only way to reduce the interest rates on your student loans is to refinance with a private lender. Do your research.

Despite the fact that many millennials are encumbered with student loan debt, they’re buying more homes than members of any other generation, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR says millennials tend to buy more modest homes and make smaller down payments than older generations — often with help from family and friends. A number of states offer down payment assistance programs, some targeted specifically at student loan borrowers.

“As this generation of college graduates starts to contemplate future life events like home purchases and retirement, it becomes increasingly important for them to take control of their college debt, whether it’s through refinancing or other tactics that can help them limit its impact on their overall financial health,” said Brendan Coughlin, president of Consumer Lending for Citizens Bank, in a statement.

About the author
Matt Carter
Matt Carter

Matt Carter is a Credible expert on student loans. Analysis pieces he’s contributed to have been featured by CNBC, CNN Money, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

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