how to consolidate your student loansIf you have taken out more than one loan for your education and now if you are having difficulty in making more than one loan repayment each month you can try out student loan consolidation programs. How you can consolidate your student loans will depend on the type of education loans you had taken.

What type of student loans can be consolidated?

Both of your Federal and private student loans can be consolidated but in a separate program. You can consolidate Direct PLUS loans, Federal PLUS loans, Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford loans, Perkins loans, Health Education Assistance loans, Nursing Student loans, and National Defense Student loans, Loans for Disadvantaged Students Direct Consolidation Loans, etc. You can also separately take out debt consolidation loans in order to consolidate your private student loans (if any).

How can your loans be consolidated?

In student loan consolidation all of your student loans are grouped as a single loan and you will have to make a single monthly payment toward a single lender according to the new repayment plan. You may be able to get debt consolidation loans at lower interest rate and thus the monthly payment is lowered too. With debt consolidation, it becomes much easier to pay off your debts as you are no more required to handle several lenders at the same time.

However, you can take out a debt consolidation loan for private student loans as you will have to consolidate your federal student loans under Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs and the Direct Loan Program. The Higher Education Act (HEA) provides for these two programs under which you can consolidate the student loans insured by the Federal Government.

Under Direct or FFEL consolidation programs, you need to have atleast one direct loan and you can include most of your Federal loans in the Direct loan consolidation program. However, before you fill up the application for Direct loan consolidation program, get a list of the Federal loans that you have from the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System.

What are the benefits of student loan consolidation?

The benefits of consolidating your student loans are five-fold:

  1. The interest rate is lowered and thus the monthly payment is lowered too.
  2. You will have a new repayment plan according to your affordability.
  3. You will get a 48-month deferment if you are a medical resident, and you can get a 36 month deferment if you are military personnel.
  4. There won’t be any prepayment penalties and all the extra payments will go directly toward the principal.

You will be able to get debt consolidation loans for private loans from banks and credit unions. As for the Federal ones, you can get it from the U.S. Department of Education.

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