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Questions to ask when consolidating student loans

This means, for example, that a Perkins Loan on its own cannot be consolidated into a Direct Loan.

(see box below), You can consolidate during grace periods.

This may lead to a lower interest rate on a Direct Consolidation loan, but only if you are consolidating variable rate loans. You will generally receive your first bills within 60 days after the new Direct Consolidation loan is made.

This may be a good idea if you want a single monthly payment.

You may also be able to get a better deal if, for example, your credit score is better now than it was when you first took out the private loans.

As you weigh the pros and cons, keep in mind that timing is critical.

With just a few exceptions, you get only one chance to consolidate with the government loan programs.Another common problem is that partial discharge of a joint consolidation loan under any of the discharge programs (other than death discharge) does not eliminate joint liability for the remaining balance.Further, borrowers with joint FFEL consolidation loans, according to the Department, may not reconsolidate into Direct Loans and therefore are not eligible for public service loan forgiveness. The fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans at the time of consolidation, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point.These include deferment, forbearance, cancellation, and affordable repayment rights.Also, federal consolidation loans generally have lower interest rates.Borrowers in default may also consolidate in certain circumstances.Consolidation was previously available to borrowers while they were still in school. Congress also eliminated joint consolidation for spouses, effective July 1, 2006.WARNING: It is very dangerous to consolidate federal loans into a private consolidation loan.You will lose your rights under the federal loan programs once you choose to consolidate with a private lender.The Department strongly encourages borrowers to apply on-line, but you may also download and print a paper application to submit by regular mail. Prior to July 1, 2006, married borrowers could choose to consolidate federal student loans from both spouses or jointly consolidate the loans of either spouse.The Department provides the following contact information if you have questions: If necessary, you can also try calling the general Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394. Both borrowers had to agree to be jointly and severally liable for repayment.

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