A Federal Student Loan Consolidation lets you convert your federal student loans into a single monthly payment, possibly reducing the interest you pay each month, and potentially giving you access to other loan forgiveness or repayment options.
While getting a degree has great advantages, it can sometimes result in borrowers needing more than one federal student loan in order to graduate. This can lead to the complicated process of making multiple monthly payments to student loan servicers, and a greater chance of missing payments, defaulting on loans, or struggling with your personal expenses until your loans are paid off.
How to Qualify for Federal Student Loan Consolidation
The first step in determining your eligibility for Federal Student Loan Consolidation, also known as a Direct Consolidation Loan, is having a loan that qualifies under the U.S. Department of Education’s current guidelines. These loans include:
- Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
- Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
- PLUS loans from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
- Supplemental Loans for Students
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Nursing Student Loans
- Nurse Faculty Loans
- Health Education Assistance Loans
- Health Professions Student Loans
- Loans for Disadvantaged Students
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans
- FFEL Consolidation Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans (under certain conditions)
If you have private loans, or you’d like to consolidate a Direct PLUS Loan made to your parents with a personal federal student loan, you won’t be able to use Federal Student Loan Consolidation as an option. However, you could be eligible for a Private Student Loan Consolidation, which usually offers the same benefits.
In addition to having one of the above loans, you will also need to meet other conditions for consolidating your federal loans through the Department of Education. These requirements include:
- Consolidating at least one Direct Loan or FFEL Program Loan
- Having loans in active repayment or in the grace period
- Making repayment arrangements on eligible loans currently in default, or
- Agreeing to repay the Direct Consolidation Loan under one of the following:
Also, if you already have an existing consolidation loan that you’re looking to consolidate with other loans, one of the loans may need to be one of the eligible federal student loans listed above. However, FFEL Consolidation Loans may be qualified for re-consolidation without additional eligible loans included, in certain situations.
Find out if you can take advantage of a Federal Student Loan Consolidation for free.
How a Federal Student Loan Consolidation Works
Consolidating federal student loans may not be ideal for everyone, making it important to know the pros and cons of debt consolidation beforehand. In some cases, other student loan repayment or student loan forgiveness programs may be more suitable for your situation.
Here are a few things to consider about consolidating your student loans:
- Streamlines multiple monthly payments into a single monthly payment
- Lowers monthly payments by extending your repayment period
- May give you access to other loan repayment and forgiveness programs
- Converts loans with variable rates into a single fixed-rate loan
- May increase the interest you pay over time by extending your repayment period
- Could cause you to lose any benefits associated with your current loans
- Restarts any progress you’ve made toward student loan forgiveness programs
For many, two of the greatest benefits of applying for a Federal Student Loan Consolidation is having a single monthly student loan payment versus multiple monthly payments, as well as getting a fixed rate for the life of the loan.
Your fixed rate is determined by weighing the average interest rate being applied to your existing loans that are eligible for consolidation, and then rounding this rate up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Please note, there is no interest rate cap on a Direct Consolidation Loan.
If you are approved for a Federal Student Loan Consolidation, your monthly payments will begin within 60 days of your loans being paid for by the Department of Education. However, if you are still within the grace period for any loans being consolidated, you may be able to delay making payments until the grace period has ended by speaking with one of our student loan specialists.
For more details on Direct Consolidation Loans, speak with a student loan specialist by phone at (800) 771-6358