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Gerri Willis Commentary:
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Lower your student loan interest rate

Gerri Willis answers readers' e-mails about student loans, 401(k) plans and home improvement.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

How do I reduce the interest rate on student loans?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Do you have any advice for people with private student loans? My husband faces an interest rate of 10% attached to his private student loans. Is there any hope to reduce it? - Katie, Ga.

Yes. If your husband has been out of college for a few years, it's possible that his FICO score has improved if he's been managing his credit well and has been making payments on time.

It might be worthwhile for him to apply for a private consolidation loan says Mark Kantrowitz of finaid.org. Your rate will be based on your FICO score and possibly yield a better interest rate.

If his FICO score has improved he could also try getting his current lender to cut the interest rate by threatening to obtain a private consolidation loan with another lender.

How do I increase the value of my home?

I bought a town home in late 2006 and want to sell this house in a year. What are some of the things I can start doing to increase the value of the house? - Madhu, Ill.

First, you don't want to undertake any major renovations. In this kind of market, those improvements aren't a good investment.

Instead, you may want to focus on doing some energy-efficient improvements, like adding insulation to your attic or replacing your furnace.

You should also focus on those little things that can make a big difference. Replace the worn carpet, or add a fresh coat of paint to some rooms.

Should I roll over my old 401(k)?

I have $35,000 in a former employer's 401(k) plan. I'm 50 years old. Is it advisable to roll this over into my current employer's 401(k)? What penalties can I expect? - Rhona, N.Y.

You should definitely roll over your old 401(k). The good news here is that you won't incur any penalties as long as you do a direct rollover from your old employers' 401(k) into your current 401(k) - if you don't do a direct rollover, and the money touches your hands first, then you will have to pay taxes and penalties. To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to toptips@cnn.com or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.
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