What’s more, consolidation typically results in the borrower paying more in total interest because consolidated loans are generally stretched out over a longer period, says Jessica Ferastoaru, a student loan counselor with Take Charge America. Consolidation usually gives you more repayment options, but it can limit them too.Consolidation is often the first step borrowers must take to enroll in some of the government’s more flexible repayment plans, including income-driven plans, many of which are restricted to borrowers with Direct Loans.
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Direct consolidation loans are now the only type of federal student consolidation loan.
Under the Direct Loan Consolidation Program, you can consolidate Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Supplemental Loans for Students (SLSs), Federally Insured Student Loans (FISLs), PLUS Loans, Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, Health Education Assistance Loans (HEALs), and just about any other type of federal student loan.
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.
NEWSLETTER: COLLEGE_PLANNERSign up for COLLEGE_PLANNER and more View Sample 1. One of the myths of consolidation is that it makes your debt less expensive by lowering your interest rate.
Historically, that may have been accurate, since consolidation was often used as a way to lock in a low interest rate on variable-rate loans, says financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz.But that hasn’t been the case for the past decade, since the government stopped issuing student loans with variable rates.If you consolidate your loans now, your new rate will be based on a weighted average of all your loans’ interest rates.This means, for example, that a Perkins Loan on its own cannot be consolidated into a Direct Loan.You may consolidate with Direct Loans during grace periods, once you have entered repayment, or during periods of deferment or forbearance.Be wary of consolidating if you’ve already made progress toward loan forgiveness under the 10-year period for public sector employees or the 20-year period under income-driven plans.