Student loans can be a significant financial burden for many Americans. Some student loan borrowers may be in a rush to zero-out their college debt.

Mortgage refinancing may be a source of payment

With housing values rising and mortgage rates continuing to be low, some student loan borrowers may be tempted to roll their debt into their mortgage. A debt-consolidation refinance can be used to pay off non-mortgage debt such as credit cards and personal loans. Often it makes sense to put your home equity to work for you with a debt consolidation refinance.

But while mortgage rates can be lower, interest expenses are just one consideration in evaluating the cost of debt.

Use caution when swapping student loan debt for mortgage debt

Borrowers should take a pause before rolling college debt into a mortgage. Student loans, especially government guaranteed loans, have flexible repayment terms. If you experience job loss or want to pursue a graduate degree, you often have the ability to temporarily suspend payments.

Mortgages, on the other hand, do not offer such forbearance options. Once you roll debt into your mortgage, it becomes secured to your home. A lender is less likely to work with you on repayment, since it may be able to satisfy your balance through the foreclosure process. There may be severe consequences of student loan default, but your home is usually not on the line.

A refinance will likely greatly extend your interest payments

Your total interest paid with a mortgage refinance can be very high, especially if you refinance a 10 or 20-year student loan to a 30-year repayment term.

While it may be a good idea for some, borrowers should proceed with caution before refinancing student loans in a home mortgage. Make sure you know the benefits that you will be missing out on by converting student debt to real estate debt.