Back in June, everyone was recommending student loan consolidation because rates were supposed to go up July 1. I had recently taken out yet another loan with Citibank, and their consolidation deal looked pretty good so I applied for it. I received something in the mail about it a couple months later, but didn’t remember hearing anything since, so I wanted to go through my massive “Student Loans” folder and figure out what was going on.

I had to call Customer Service to find out that my loans had not, in fact, been consolidated. They wanted me to contact someone and change my in-school status to decline my 6-month grace period. According to the Financial Aid office here, I shouldn’t have needed to do that, and they couldn’t consolidate the loans I wanted to anyway.

Or something. It was all very confusing.

Either way, I went through and sorted all my paperwork by lending institution and date, and figured that as long as I was going through it all I should figure out what I’ve actually got out.

The good news is, I know where I stand. The bad news is, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars away from where I thought I was. My three-bedroom SoHo penthouse turned out to be a mobile home in an Alabama swamp.

I did a terrible job of sorting things out when I applied for consolidation a couple months ago. I applied with four loans that totaled a reasonable sum that didn’t look too intimidating. I canceled that, since it wasn’t going to do me any good. Now, I’ve got seven loans with four different places. But, each one has its own index card, so they look more like flash cards than bushels of money that people want to take away from me. At least I know who I owe, how much, and in some cases, what the monthly payments will be and what day they’re due (the end of the month is going to be rough for a couple years).

Someone told me the other day that experts recommend you plan a month of job searching for every $10,000 you’d like to make. I guess I should have started looking a couple years ago.