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Options for Those Seeking a Student Loan Consolidation

Feb 29, 2008
There are quite a few benefits to consolidating your federal student loans, making it something you should give serious consideration if you have such outstanding loans. These benefits include:

You have a single monthly payment. After consolidation, borrowers only have one lender, the Department of Education, making it much easier to manage the debt.

It may reduce your loan payment. The minimum payment amount of the consolidated loan may be less than the combined payments of your previous loans.

There is no minimum or maximum loan amount, and no fee for consolidation.

You may get new or renewed deferment options for your loans.

There are several different repayment options, with the ability to switch repayment plans at any time.

Loans may be consolidated in two ways - directly with the federal government using the U.S. Department of Education Direct Federal Loan Consolidation program, or through commercial lenders using the Federal Loan Consolidation program.

For students who have borrowed heavily, the Direct Federal Loan Consolidation program may be a good option. It includes a special income-contingent option that brings all obligations together into a single new consolidated loan with a monthly payment structure based on the borrower's income level. The lower your income level, the lower your payment. As your income rises, your loan payment amount will rise accordingly. The repayment period lasts until the loan is repaid, up to 25 years. After 25 years, the remaining amount of the loan is repaid by the federal government, with the borrower the subject of a tax liability for the amount repaid.

One negative of the Direct Federal Loan Consolidation program is that it results in the payment of much more interest because of the long repayment period. Therefore, this option is only recommended for students who are absolutely unable to make a normal payment.

The following types of loans qualify for inclusion in a Federal Consolidation Loan:

Subsidized, unsubsidized, and guaranteed Stafford loans;

Perkins or NDSL loans;

Supplemental loans for students;

PLUS loans;

Federal insured student loans; and

Health professional student loans.

To qualify for a Direct Consolidation Loan, you must have a Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan ("FFEL") that is in one of the following states: in grace, repayment, deferment, or default. If you are still in school, you cannot consolidate your loans.

Perkins loans by themselves cannot be included in a Direct Consolidation Loan - there must be non-Perkins loans as well. Perkins loans that are consolidated will be unsubsidized. It may not be advantageous to add Perkins loans to a Direct Consolidation Loan, however, because you will lose the special benefits that are attached to Perkins loans.

If your loans are in default state, they can still be consolidated if satisfactory arrangements are made with the lending institutions or you agree to repayment under the Income Contingent Repayment Plan. One thing to keep in mind is that, although loans in default can be consolidated, they will remain in a default status on your credit report. A better option is to rehabilitate the loan before consolidation. The status of the loan on your credit report will then be updated to reflect that it is current.

We've just scratched the surface of what there is to know about student loan consolidation. However, you should now see that there are many options when it comes to consolidating your loans. Consolidation can definitely make your life easier and is something you should consider if you are currently making payments on multiple student loans, including private student loans.
About the Author
Student Loan Financial Group makes life easier for students with its Quick-To-Learn private student loans product. Our online application only takes about 15 minutes, and you get an answer within a week.
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