Consolidating Your Government Student Loans
Written by: Dale Ronewicz
A Consolidation Loan allows you to combine your federal student loans into a single loan with one monthly payment, which can be significantly lower than the payment required under the standard 10-year repayment option. Under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, banks, secondary markets, credit unions, and other lenders provide the Consolidation Loans. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, the federal government provides the loans.
Most federal education loans are eligible for consolidation, including subsidized and unsubsidized Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans, SLS, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Nursing Loans, and Health Education Assistance Loans. Private education loans are not eligible. PLUS Loan borrowers (parent borrowers) also can consolidate their loans.
To apply for a Direct Loan Consolidation or an FFEL Consolidation the borrower must contact the lender and complete an application. Most lenders provide borrowers with the ability to apply on-line or request an application over the telephone. Once an application is completed and submitted, the lender will request information from the borrower's other lenders or from its own system to determine the amounts outstanding on the borrowers loans. The borrower will then receive notification about the consolidation loan, normal consumer disclosures, the amount owed, and if appropriate, where to make payments.
Always Consider the Cost
You should keep in mind that although consolidation can simplify loan repayment and lower your monthly payment, it also can significantly increase the total cost of repaying your loans. Consolidation offers lower monthly payments by giving borrowers up to 30 years to repay their loans. So, you'll make more payments and pay more in interest. In fact, in some situations consolidation can double your total interest expense. If you don't need monthly payment relief, you should compare the cost of repaying your unconsolidated loans against the cost of repaying a consolidation loan. You also should take into account the impact of losing any borrower benefits offered under non-consolidated repayment plans. Borrower benefits, which may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some loan cancellation benefits can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans.
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